Wind in the wake of today’s early morning snowfall is giving the Spokane region a distinct wintry feel even as wet snow melts from grassy surfaces around the area at elevations as low as 1,950 feet.
Southwest winds since mid-morning have been gusting to 28 mph in Spokane. With a temperature of 34, that has created a wind chill sensation on exposed skin of 22 degrees as of 9 a.m.
Snow did not cause any significant traffic problems this morning on major highways where traffic cameras show vehicles moving well with the exception of mountain passes where compact snow and ice were reported, including Snoqualmie and Lookout passes on Interstate 90.
Snow was creeping in from the shoulders and onto the lane edges on U.S. Highway 195 at Spangle south of Spokane earlier today.
Mostly, there is snow on the sides of roadways at elevations between 2,000 and 3,000 feet. Up to 2 inches of snow was being reported from Spokane’s South Hill southward to Pullman.
The National Weather Service lifted a winter weather advisory this morning in the Spokane and Coeur d’Alene areas but continued it for the Palouse region for the possibility of additional snow and motorists not being ready for icy surprises.
The weather service also warned that an arctic front is moving into the region this weekend.
Getting snow and slush off sidewalks and driveways this weekend will be critical in preventing the formation of treacherous black ice, especially underneath any new snow that falls.
Once the cold air arrives, the region’s weather may quiet down under a system of higher air pressure through the Thanksgiving holiday period, according to a computer forecast model currently favored by forecasters. Under that model, the next storm following the arctic outbreak won’t arrive until the end of the holiday weekend.
Today, forecasters said the risk of snow will subside after 9 a.m. with highs in the upper 30s.
However, cooling conditions later today should allow whatever accumulation remains to freeze overnight with a low of 29 expected.
Forecasters are also calling for a 50 percent chance of snow showers tonight and Friday, with accumulations expected to be light. The high on Friday is expected to be 38 in downtown Spokane.
More serious cold weather arrives over the weekend as today’s storm system sags to the south allowing arctic air to invade from the north.
Snow showers are also in the forecast for Saturday night and Sunday.
The highs will go from 32 on Saturday to 26 on Sunday and 21 on Monday when the brunt of the arctic air sets in.
Lows will be in the teens Saturday and Sunday night and then dropping to single digits by Monday and Tuesday nights. The high on Tuesday may only reach 12.
The arctic cold may stop the threat of renewed icy conditions for much of next week, according to forecast models.
At 7 a.m., it was 33 at Spokane International Airport, 35 at Felts Field, 34 in Coeur d’Alene, 33 in Deer Park and 30 in Pullman.
Light snow was reported at the Spokane airport and in Pullman. Flurries were reported in Deer Park. It was cloudy near downtown Spokane and in Coeur d’Alene.
Six inches to a foot of new snow fell in the mountains, according to ski lodge reports.
Spokane has just over a half inch of precipitation in the form of mainly rain and then snow during the early morning.