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Winter storm warning hoisted over region

Tue., Dec. 28, 2010, 7:41 a.m.

Blizzard warning posted for Palouse; gusts to 43 mph Wednesday

The National Weather Service this morning has issued a winter storm warning for heavy snow over far Eastern Washington and North Idaho starting tonight through the daylight hours on Wednesday.

In addition, a blizzard warning was posted for the Washington and Idaho Palouse where wind gusts to 43 mph could whip the snow into drifts and reduce visibility.

As much as 10 to 12 inches of snow could fall in some locations with amounts of 6 to 9 inches considered very likely over the region.

The winter storm warning begins this evening and will continue through 4 p.m. on Wednesday.

Already, rain was reported in Walla Walla this afternoon and mixed snow and rain in Pullman as the storm migrates in from the southwest after reaching the Oregon coast this afternoon.

The snow is expected to fall from the approach of a low pressure system moving northeast from the Oregon coast and deepening as it tracks inland. That should draw a band of relatively warm, moisture-laden air into the atmosphere above the region. At the same time, the deepening low will draw cold northerly air into its cyclonic circulation closer to the ground to produce snow-making conditions.

As the low passes through the region, it will open the door initially to gusty west winds to 22 mph changing to a bitter northerly wind of up to 10 mph by Wednesday night. The wind could prove troublesome by causing visibility and drifting problems in exposed areas.

The Palouse could see the stronger westerly wind gusts above 40 mph.

Temperatures will drop on Wednesday night into the teens and Thursday with the invasion of arctic air and will likely fall to near or below zero readings by Friday morning. The cold remains in place through the holiday weekend, forecasters said.

On the upside, skies are likely to be sunny on Friday with highs in the teens and mostly sunny on Saturday with a high of 20.

Snow that was forecast over the region this morning did not materialize at lower elevations of Spokane, although some snow fell at higher elevations near Spokane International Airport.

Coeur d’Alene had up to 2 inches of very heavy snow. Snow was also reported in southeast Washington.

On Monday night, drivers on Interstate 90 were slowed by near whiteout conditions caused by heavy snow northeast of Ritzville about 9 p.m. Rain was reported in Spokane about the same time.

At 3 p.m., temperatures were relatively mild with 40 at Spokane airport, 43 at Felts Field, 39 at Coeur d’Alene, 37 in Deer Park and 36 in Pullman.

Tags: snow, weather

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