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For snow lovers, forecast is gravy

With the temperatures hovering near zero, mist from the Spokane River shrouds Riverfront Park on  Wednesday.  (Colin Mulvany)
With the temperatures hovering near zero, mist from the Spokane River shrouds Riverfront Park on Wednesday. (Colin Mulvany)

12 inches expected through Saturday as temperatures rise

Area merchants may not like the concept, but the weatherman is promising something distinctly not black for this weekend’s holiday shopping.

Up to a foot of new snow is expected from a series of storms headed to the Inland Northwest today through Saturday.

A winter storm watch was posted Wednesday afternoon for Eastern Washington and North Idaho north of Lewiston and the Snake River.

Light snow should start falling around the time most people are basting their turkeys – about noon.

This comes after the region finishes digging out from 10.6 inches of snow measured at Spokane International Airport from Sunday through Tuesday.

Up to 2 inches of new snow by Friday morning will be followed by nearly 9 more inches on Friday afternoon and Saturday, said Anthony Cavallucci, warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Spokane.

“By Saturday afternoon there could be an additional 6 to 12 inches of snow accumulations along and east of a Ritzville-to-Davenport-to-Colville line,” he said in an e-mail. “The worst-case scenario spills up to 15 inches of snow on the Spokane metro area.”

Blizzard conditions earlier this week led to Wednesday’s arctic freeze.

A brief spell of sunshine at dawn Wednesday did little to take the bite out of below-zero temperatures across the region, including minus 24 in Cheney.

Spokane tied a record set in 1985 at minus 9 at the Spokane airport Wednesday. The coldest temperature overnight Tuesday was minus 10 at the airport, which did not break the record for Nov. 23.

Average temperatures for this time of year are 37 for a high 27 for a low.

Arctic cold is starting to ease today with highs near 20 and lows tonight in the teens.

Moderating temperatures are predicted over the weekend with highs near 30 and lows in the 20s.

Snow and ice on the roadway, combined with heavy holiday travel, resulted in long backups on Interstate 90 over Snoqualmie Pass Wednesday. The Washington Department of Transportation reported backups of 10 miles headed east into Eastern Washington.

The Puget Sound region, after facing traffic-snarling snow and ice followed by freezing temperatures, could have a little additional snow this morning, followed by rain.

The accumulation is expected to be less than a half-inch, and should turn to rain by 10 a.m., according to the National Weather Service.

The southern portions of the Columbia Basin and Columbia River Gorge could see periods of mixed precipitation, including snow, rain, freezing rain or sleet later today through Saturday as milder Pacific air rides over the top of moderating arctic air hugging the ground.

The gorge should reach the middle to upper 30s on Saturday and lower 30s on Sunday, which may help drivers undertaking intercity travel.