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Frost likely to strike tonight

Fri., Oct. 15, 2010, 2:06 p.m.

Dry and sunny weather continues; grape harvest in last stages

Dry air that has moved over the Inland Northwest in the wake of a cold front this morning has set the stage for widespread frost tonight and possibly each night through Sunday, forecasters said this afternoon.

Inland Northwest residents who have escaped the first frost in their yards so far may be reckoning with the end of the gardening season as lows drop into the lower 30s tonight through Sunday night.

The National Weather Service is calling for lows tonight of 32 in downtown Spokane, 31 on the North Side, 29 in Spokane Valley and Deer Park, 33 in Liberty Lake, 31 in Coeur d’Alene and Post Falls, 27 in Sandpoint and 36 in Pullman.

Winds are expected to flow out of the north tonight, and areas protected by mountains from north wind could see a hard freeze in the 20s, National Weather Service forecasters said. The north wind should keep parts of the region in the lower 30s rather than 20s.

A freeze warning has been issued for tonight and Saturday night in the Yakima and Kittitas valleys and for Saturday night in the southwestern Columbia Basin.

A freeze warning was not issued in the Spokane area because the region has already passed its average date of first frost.

Wine grape harvest, delayed by a slow growing season dating back to a cool spring, has been occurring for several weeks now.

John Mueller of Grande Ronde Cellars in Spokane said he is crushing the last of his harvest on Saturday. “We’ve got some great numbers coming out of our blocks at Seven Hills (Vineyard),” he said about sugar levels in cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc grapes from the Walla Walla Valley.

Forecasters said highs through the weekend should stay in the middle and upper 50s with sunny skies.

Today’s breezes reached the middle an upper teens for sustained winds, but have since died away with the approach of a weak area of higher air pressure.

Sunny weather is expected to continue throughout the coming week. Forecasters said highs should reach the lower and middle 60s on Monday through Thursday.

Computer forecast models are showing continued dry weather into Friday.

Spokane International Airport reached 56 by 3 p.m.

At 7 a.m. today, it was 42 at Spokane International Airport, 46 in downtown Spokane, 45 in Coeur d’Alene, 39 in Deer Park and 46 in Pullman.

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