December 7, 2010 in Idaho

Weather outlook warmer, wetter

By The Spokesman-Review
Sunrise, sunset

 Monday’s sunset was the earliest of the year at 3:58 p.m. The latest sunrise won’t come until Dec. 27 at 7:38 a.m. The winter solstice is Dec. 21.

 The differing dates for the earliest sunset and latest sunrise are the result of geometry in the earth’s orbit around the sun and the tilt of its axis.

All of that snow and ice covering the lowlands of the Inland Northwest may be short-lived, the weatherman said Monday.

A series of storms out of the southwest are expected to bring milder weather that could trigger major melting and some local flooding by Sunday.

The first storm arrives today, initially bringing snow but then turning to a mix of snow, sleet, rain or freezing rain overnight.

As a result, the Wednesday morning commute may be icy, said Matt Fugazzi, forecaster for the National Weather Service in Spokane.

“This does not look like a very big freezing rain event,” he said.

The current forecast calls for less than a half-inch of snow today and tonight in Spokane and Coeur d’Alene.

A winter storm watch was posted Monday for northern counties and the cities of Kettle Falls, Colville, Newport, Sandpoint, Deer Park and Rathdrum for possible snow accumulations of 3 to 6 inches tonight and Wednesday morning.

Snow levels are expected to rise from 2,200 feet tonight to 4,400 feet Wednesday, but then come back down to 2,000 feet by Wednesday night.

As a result, there is a chance of minor snow accumulations from showers Wednesday night.

High temperatures will be in the middle and upper 30s on Wednesday through Saturday and then in the lower 40s on Sunday. Lows are expected to hover near the freezing mark.

The snow level may go to 5,000 feet this weekend, Fugazzi said.

Forecast models are showing a very moist Pacific storm streaming northeastward Sunday into the Inland Northwest and bringing the possibility of rain on top of any remaining snow and ice.

Minor flooding could be a problem in urban areas, especially where storm drains are blocked by ice, Fugazzi said.

As of Monday, the snowpack at Spokane International Airport was 8 inches deep.

Spokane’s 26.6 inches of snowfall so far this season was 17 inches more than normal through Dec. 6.

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