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December thaw melts snow pack at airport

Mon., Dec. 13, 2010, 12:36 p.m.

Inland NW rivers to stay below flood stage

Spokane’s snow pack has officially melted. The National Weather Service reported zero snow depth at Spokane International Airport today after 5 inches was reported on Sunday.

At the weather service office northwest of Airway Heights, the snow depth averaged about 3 inches, according to meteorologists.

Mild temperatures that are causing the melt down will continue for at least one more day, but a new storm system is expected tonight with gusty winds on Tuesday.

Rain remains in the forecast for today and tonight, but snow levels will drop on Tuesday from 4,400 feet in elevation to 2,400 feet.

Schweitzer ski resort near Sandpoint reported a temperature of 40 at the lodge at noon, and the snow report described skiing conditions as “buttery.” Snow pack there ranges from 40 inches at the lodge to more than 5 feet at the ridge tops.

The National Weather Service said that rivers in the region are on the rise, but should crest below flood stage. For example, the Coeur d’Alene River at Enaville should crest this afternoon at 66.2 feet, which is well below flood stage of 72 feet.

The high today could reach 47 degrees, allowing more of the region’s lowland snow pack to melt away.

Fog was thick on the West Plains this morning at the top of the Sunset Hill on Interstate 90 and extending to the southwest and along U.S. Highway 2 near Fairchild.

Visibility at Spokane International Airport was a quarter mile at 8 a.m.

Fog was also being reported on the North Side of Spokane and in valley areas to the north.

Wind gusts could hit 24 mph on Tuesday as a strong cold front crosses the region. Temperatures during the day will start out mild, but then start to fall once the cold front passes over the region.

National Weather Service forecasters said temperatures will be at or below normal after Tuesday with highs in the lower 30s and lows in the 20s through Thursday.

Snow is possible on Saturday when another storm system crosses the region.

On Sunday, the high of 45 was well below the record of 59 for the date. A total of 0.20 inches of rain was recorded at Spokane International Airport.

In Western Washington, heavy rain in recent days has wreaked havoc on highways north and southwest of Seattle. One highway in Mason County was closed because of mudslides and fallen trees. Amtrak rail service was suspended until Tuesday.

Snow on Sunday piled up along the east side of the Cascades northwest of Wenatchee. Holden Village on Lake Chelan had 18.9 inches of snow. Winthrop on the Methow Valley Highway had 17 inches. Both were daily records.

Locally at 8 a.m., it was 41 at Spokane International Airport, 46 at Felts Field, 43 in Coeur d’Alena, 38 at Deer Park and 43 in Pullman.

Tags: weather

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