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Mountain winter storm watch issued for Friday

Wed., March 31, 2010, 1:30 p.m.

The National Weather Service this afternoon issued a winter storm watch for Friday through Saturday for elevations above 3,000 feet in Washington and Idaho.

Accumulations of 6 to 9 inches is likely across northern Washington and North Idaho with up to a foot possible in some places.

In the Cascades, the winter storm watch is calling for 1 to 2 feet of snow above 1,500 feet, which could create problems for driving across mountain passes Friday and Saturday.

The new snow, coming on the heels of a storm earlier this week, will help boost a lean snow pack that is running just over half of normal in the Spokane River basin and below-normal elsewhere in the Pacific Northwest.

A major storm system is moving across the Gulf of Alaska this afternoon on a trajectory to reach the northwest coast by Thursday evening, forecasters said.

Until then, improving weather with a chance of clouds and showers is expected through the day on Thursday with a high in Spokane and Coeur d’Alene near 50.

The snow level on Friday may drop as low as 2,600 feet around Spokane and Coeur d’Alene, which would bring snow to the lower slopes of the region’s foothills but not to valley floors. Rain or snow are in the forecast for urban areas on Friday.

Plenty of fluffy cumulus clouds have been hanging over the region today, and some of those clouds have been spitting hail and snow showers mainly in the mountains of the region, forecasters said.

Highs Friday and Saturday should be in the middle 40s with lows in the upper 20s tonight through Saturday night.

Easter Sunday is looking iffy, and probably won’t be bringing any barbecue weather. Forecasters are calling for a 30 percent chance of showers and clouds and a high of 50.

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