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Bitter cold, snow on the way

Near-zero conditions could rupture unprotected pipes

A blast of winter is heading toward the Inland Northwest today with bitter cold and snow likely by Sunday.

One to 2 inches of light, fluffy snow are expected overnight on Sunday and again on Monday morning, with near-zero conditions by Monday night.

The forecast lows in Spokane are 16 on Sunday night, 3 on Monday night and 4 on Tuesday night, with highs on Tuesday and Wednesday in the teens.

It’s a good idea to get ready now.

Residents should make sure their pets and animals have shelter, and that any outdoor animals have access to water that is not frozen.

Water pipes that run along exterior walls are subject to freezing, and should be protected with insulation. If they can’t be insulated, then leave the faucet dripping slowly Monday and Tuesday nights to prevent a freeze and pipe rupture.

Vehicle cooling systems must have enough antifreeze to withstand temperatures of minus 34, said Mike Maycumber, owner of Corky’s Radiator Shop, 1620 N. Ash St.

He said coolant levels need to be checked, and if necessary, the system should be flushed with new coolant added. Do-it-yourself testers are available.

“You are definitely going to want to check it before it gets cold,” he said.

Weak vehicle batteries may also give up during periods of intense cold.

Furnaces need to be in good working condition. Installing a clean air filter will help with heating efficiency.

Arctic air is dry, so adding humidity to indoor air is a good idea. Portable humidifiers are an inexpensive option.

Keep warmth inside by putting towels in front of the threshold to exterior doors and by leaving drapery or blinds closed during the day unless the sun is shining, as is forecast for Tuesday through Thursday.

Breezy northeast winds will add to the cold on Sunday, when a high of 24 is expected, followed by 21 on Monday in Spokane.

Winds will be stronger near the Purcell Trench in North Idaho and Okanogan Valley in north-central Washington.

National Weather Service forecasters said one computer model was suggesting a fairly strong snowstorm on Monday, but they were discounting its accuracy for now.

Locations north of Spokane may drop below zero. Sandpoint is forecast to have lows of minus 1 on Monday night and minus 4 on Tuesday night.

The arctic air will begin to thaw some on Wednesday and Thursday, but it will still be cold. The low Wednesday night should be about 10 in Spokane, with a high on Thursday of 22.

Mostly sunny skies are expected Tuesday through Thursday.

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