Winds lash Inland Northwest; snow on horizon
Winds that lashed the region overnight and early today are starting to subside, and forecasters are looking ahead to a potentially cold and snowy forecast by this weekend.
Spokane International Airport reported a peak gust of 46 mph at 1 a.m. today, but other locations reported gusts of 50 mph or more.
A gust of 63 mph was reported at Uniontown in Whitman County, and Beverly in Grant County saw a peak wind of 58 mph.
Wenatchee and Lake Chelan saw gusts of 63 to 64 mph in an area that forecasters had said would receive the strongest winds.
An automated wind gauge near Pullman clocked in at 85 mph, and another automated site at Greenacres went to 51 mph.
Coeur d’Alene Airport reported gusts to 41 mph.
Power was out to thousands of customers this morning. Utility crews were working to restore service.
Forecasters said the wind was stirred up by a low pressure center that moved from the British Columbia coastline on Monday and crossed just north of the region overnight.
A northwest flow in the upper atmosphere this morning is bringing a break in a parade of storms expected off the Pacific this week.
Rainfall amounts Monday night and Tuesday morning varied widely. Felts Field had a quarter inch. The Spokane airport had a tenth of an inch, but a community weather observer north of Mount Spokane reported 1.18 inches of precipitation.
Another low is expected to creep into the region tonight, but the main wave from the storm is not expected until Wednesday night and Thursday.
Snow levels will progressively lower in elevation so that by Thursday there is a chance of rain and snow turning to all snow by Friday and Friday night at lower elevations.
The mountains may see building snow amounts this week.
The weekend is likely to be snowy, but a relatively dry northwest flow should keep accumulations at less than a half inch on Friday with light accumulations possible over the weekend.
Forecasters said computer models today are showing inconsistency in bringing a biting cold front out of the arctic on Sunday. Two of four models are calling for a greater maritime influence from the northwest to push the coldest air eastward.
Still, forecasters are calling for lows near 15 in Spokane on Sunday night with a high on Monday near 22.
Highs through Friday should be in the 40s before the cooler air starts filtering into the region in the wake of a cold front overnight on Friday. Saturday’s high is forecast at 33.
At 7 a.m., it was 37 at the Spokane airport, 41 at Felts Field, 37 in Coeur d’Alene, 38 in Deer Park and 41 in Pullman.
Winds were gusting to 33 in Pullman at 7 a.m. and 25 mph in Lewiston. Pendleton had gusts to 44 as last night’s storm system moves south and east.