National Weather Service forecasters today said they are expecting a significant warming trend starting this weekend with highs reaching the upper 40s by Sunday.
A series of weak storm systems are forecast to reach the Inland Northwest on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday with mostly rain in lower elevations and snow in the mountains.
The warming trend is likely to continue with spring-like conditions next Monday, said forecaster Ron Miller in an afternoon weather briefing. The outlook for next week is for above-normal temperatures and below-normal precipitation.
El Nino conditions in the tropical Pacific have left the Inland Northwest under the influence of a southerly flow since early January, and now the region is expected to see early spring weather next week, Miller said.
This morning, fog slowed traffic through the region, and forecasters said it may return late tonight.
Visibility was down to an eighth mile at Spokane International Airport at 9 a.m. where ice fog was reported.
A break in storm systems has left the region under a high pressure system that is causing the fog and low clouds that first formed on Sunday.
The fog is expected to return after 10 p.m.
A month of above-normal temperatures came to an end on Sunday when the high temperature reached 34.
The normal high for today is 37 degrees, and the normal low is 25.
While snow has continued to fall on the upper mountain slopes, accumulations are well below normal for early February in the mountains near Spokane and Coeur d’Alene. The snowpack is at 55 percent of normal there.
Elsewhere, snowpack is 57 percent of normal in the central Idaho Panhandle mountains, 83 percent of normal in the Okanogan region and 64 percent of normal in the Blue Mountains of southeast Washington and northeast Oregon.
Today’s weather could repeat itself on Tuesday. Increasing clouds are likely on Wednesday before a new storm system moves into the region Wednesday night.
At 1 p.m., it was 38 at the Spokane airport and Deer Park, 40 in downtown Spokane and Pullman and 39 in Coeur d’Alene.