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Rain and highs near 40 expected this week

Streams of moisture off the Pacific Ocean are going to keep the Inland Northwest under a cloudy and wet weather pattern today through Wednesday, forecasters said.

Rain is likely to be heaviest on Tuesday.

Cold air hovering near the ground at lower elevations of the region this morning could cause some of the rain to freeze as it falls., prompting a hazardous weather outlook from the National Weather Service.

The threat should diminish by afternoon with highs expected to reach the lower 40s. Light rain was reported in Spokane and mixed wintry precipitation was reported at Wenatchee at 10 a.m.

Above-normal temperatures are expected to continue with highs near 40 through Friday. Lows should be in the lower 30s.

The chances of rain are about 30 to 40 percent today, increasing to 80 percent on Tuesday. Winds today should be light, but breezy conditions are possible on Tuesday.

A deep low pressure off the Pacific coast is creating a southwesterly flow over the Inland Northwest. Temperatures are expected to stay above normal for early January. Normal temperatures are 32 for a high and 21 for a low in Spokane.

Freezing temperatures in recent weeks have left an ice layer in the soil, which will prevent rain this week from soaking into the ground. That may leave the region vulnerable to minor flooding from any new rainfall.

“Mainstem river flooding is not expected, but high levels on the smaller streams and creeks as well as urban areas, low lying fields and known problem roads will have high water. Cooler air will move in by Thursday and the precipitation will end,” according to an e-mail from John Livingston, chief meteorologist at the weather service office in Spokane.

Snow levels are expected to rise to 4,000 feet in mountains north of Spokane and Coeur d’Alene and to 6,000 feet in mountains to the south.

At 7 a.m., it was 32 at Spokane International Airport, 34 in downtown Spokane, 32 in Coeur d’Alene, 35 in Deer Park and 31 in Pullman.