A hazardous weather outlook has been issued for Eastern Washington and a winter weather advisory is in effect in the Columbia Basin west of Spokane for snow and freezing rain starting tonight.
Snow and sleet accumulations of up to an inch are possible through Saturday morning. The snowfall should begin in the Spokane area after 10 p.m. with the precipitation changing to sleet or freezing rain overnight.
The precipitation is being carried on a Pacific storm that originated over milder ocean waters to the southwest of the region, and the storm should scour out remaining arctic air in the region by mid-morning on Saturday.
The National Weather Service also issued a winter weather advisory for the Columbia Basin and central Washington where colder air is expected to persist into Saturday. Travel on Interstate 90 and U.S. Highway 2 west of Spokane County will likely be treacherous, forecasters said today.
Snow levels are expected to remain about 2,500 feet in the mountains north of Spokane and Coeur d’Alene. The milder air should raise snow levels to 5,000 feet in the central Panhandle of Idaho, southeast Washington and northeast Oregon.
The chances of precipitation are pegged at 60 to 70 percent in the Spokane region.
Forecasts by region
Mountain areas north of Spokane and Coeur d’Alene, including Sandpoint, Priest River, Newport and Colville: Up to an inch of snow is expected tonight with precipitation changing to freezing rain or rain by afternoon on Saturday. Accumulations of less than 2 inches with up to 3 inches in the mountains. Snow level rises to 2,500 feet on Saturday.
Palouse region of Idaho and Washington, including Moscow and Pullman: A mix of snow, rain or freezing rain with little or no accumulations tonight changing to rain by afternoon on Saturday.
Columbia Basin west of Spokane and Whitman counties: Snow tonight with accumulation up to an inch, and then changing to freezing rain with accumulations of a tenth of an inch of ice tonight, with a wintry mix Saturday morning.
Central Idaho Panhandle: Light snow overnight changing to rain or freezing rain on Saturday.
Milder weather will move into the region Saturday and Sunday as the air flow changes from northerly to southwesterly.
Highs are expected to reach the upper 30s to lower 40s from Sunday through Thursday with lows in the 30s.
A broad low pressure area is going to form in the Gulf of Alaska while the Inland Northwest falls under the western edge of higher air pressure. Circulation around the low should send a series of quick storm impulses into the region starting on Monday night. A second impulse is expected Wednesday night.
Rain is expected at lower elevations with snow levels at 4,000 to 6,000 feet, forecasters said.
At 7 a.m., it was 18 at Spokane International Airport, 20 in downtown Spokane, 16 in Coeur d’Alene, 18 in Deer Park and 24 in Pullman.