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Mild air, rain moving over region

Tue., Jan. 12, 2010, 7:27 a.m.

Temperature was 49 at SIA at 7 a.m.

Rain with temperatures well above normal should keep the Inland Northwest soggy today and Wednesday.

An impervious layer of frozen soil could prevent that rain from soaking into the ground, creating a risk of ponding water and minor flooding, forecasters said this morning.

The temperature at 7 a.m. at Spokane International Airport was 49. That’s four degrees shy of today’s record of 53 in Spokane set in 1983.

Elsewhere, it was 59 in Walla Walla, 47 in Lewiston and 46 in Deary in North Idaho.

The milder air was generally to the south and southwest of downtown Spokane. A weather site at Tyler on Interstate 90 southwest of Cheney showed a temperature of 49.

The warm up was also showing up in higher elevations. Mount Spokane ski area had a temperature of 40 degrees at its summit at about 6,000 feet while nearby and Quartz Peak in northeast Spokane County was 42 degrees at 4,700 feet. Ragged Peak in North Idaho had 44 degrees at 4,200 feet.

At 8 a.m., Fourth of July Summit on I-90 was 50 degrees.

Low-lying locations were in the upper 30s, including downtown Spokane.

The mild air was being caused by a strong down draft off the Wallowa and Blue mountains in northeast Oregon and southeast Washington. The phenomenon is more common in the Walla Walla and Lewiston areas during the winter and does not often extend as far northward.

The warm air was being pushed by a strong south-to-north air flow accompanying a pair of storm impulses expected to moisten the region today, forecasters said.

Highs today should remain in the 40s with lows tonight staying above freezing in the middle 30s in Spokane and Coeur d’Alene.

The mild weather should continue through the weekend with a break in the rain and showers on Thursday night through Friday night.

The next Pacific storm is expected on Saturday and it could arrive with enough cool air to raise a chance of snow Saturday night in lower elevations.

Ski resorts were at or above freezing this morning. It was 32 at 49 Degrees North on Chewelah Peak north of Deer Park, 38 degrees at Schweitzer resort and 39 degrees at Silver Mountain resort.

Forecasters said snow levels should be about 5,000 feet tonight and Wednesday before lowering to 4,000 feet on Wednesday night.

The normal temperatures in Spokane are 32 for a high and 21 for a low.

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