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New snow brings traffic challenges

Sat., Dec. 18, 2010, 8:33 p.m.

Roads became slick, leaving local law enforcement to deal with numerous slide-offs and collisions.

The Spokane Police Department said they responded to 85 collisions between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday due to slick roads.

“Citizens are cautioned to use extreme care while driving,” an SPD news release said. “Drivers need to allow extra distance for stops and even driving the speed limit is too fast for the current conditions.”

The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office said they had reports of 78 accidents in the county from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. “It’s slippery,” said Sgt. Dave Reagan in a news release. “Slow down. Please.”

“Today, we’ve probably had about 65,” a Washington State Patrol dispatcher said of slide-offs in this district, which covers seven counties. “Most of them were earlier in the day, around 10:30.”

That figure included a pile-up of about 15 cars near the Argonne Road exit on westbound Interstate 90 that slowed traffic to a crawl around 10:45 a.m.

“Luckily, it was all non-injury,” the dispatcher said.

The Idaho State Police in North Idaho saw 24 property damage crashes, 11 slide-offs and two injury accidents as of Saturday evening, a dispatcher said.

Her advice to drivers braving the wintry weather: “Slow down.”

In Whitman County, the roads were somewhat slick Saturday, a dispatcher said, but there had not been many slide-offs.

“It’s really not that bad,” the dispatcher said. “Everyone mostly managed to stay on the roads.”

However, two drivers were taken to Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center for injuries they sustained in a collision about 10 a.m. Saturday on Highway 195 between Colfax and Pullman.

Police say Narinder Kaur, 47, was driving her Toyota Rav4 too fast for conditions when she crossed the centerline into the southbound lane and struck Jay T. Cady, 54, who was driving a Subaru Outback. Kaur was in in critical condition and Cady was listed in stable condition Saturday evening.

More snow is expected as a series of small systems pass over the area this week, but precipitation will turn to rain and snow will melt as temperatures rise later in the week, according to the National Weather Service.

A system similar to the one that passed through Saturday will likely bring an inch or two of snow Monday morning. Snow is also likely Wednesday and Thursday night, but is expected to turn to rain as temperatures warm slightly on Friday. Similar weather likely will be seen in Coeur d’Alene, with snow expected Sunday night, Monday and Thursday night, with temperatures warming slightly Friday.

“Right now it doesn’t look like as strong a warm-up as we saw with the last melt,” said Ron Miller, a meteorologist with the weather service in Spokane.

He said that despite the rising temperatures, there is still a chance of a white Christmas.

“We could hold on to some of that snow, even though some of it will melt by Christmas,” he said.

The weather service has issued a winter weather advisory for areas in southeastern Washington and Idaho’s central Panhandle mountains, where there is a potential for a band of heavier snow today and Monday as a low-pressure system moves across the area. The greatest threat for heavy snow will be on the Palouse.

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