A major Pacific storm is brewing offshore today and is poised to strike the Inland Northwest tonight and Sunday with ample rain and wind gusts to 40 mph.
A cold front on Sunday could set the stage for the first major snowfall in the mountains of the region, prompting the National Weather Service to issue a hazardous weather outlook there.
Hunters and outdoors enthusiasts are urged to prepare for winter conditions at higher elevations.
The first in a pair of Pacific storms this weekend is expected to bring light rain today before a vigorous storm arrives tonight and lasts through Sunday.
The forecast calls for a 70 percent chance of rain today, 80 percent tonight and 100 percent on Sunday.
Spokane and Pullman could see three-quarters of an inch of rain, with up to an inch in Coeur d’Alene. Wind gusts to 39 mph in Spokane and even stronger across the Palouse and Blue Mountains are expected Sunday.
Today’s rainfall should be relatively light with a possible break later in the afternoon. Forecasters on Friday were calling for less than a tenth of an inch today. A quarter- to half-inch of rain is likely on Sunday.
Highs should reach the lower 50s with lows in the 40s both days.
Snow levels may drop to highway pass levels on Sunday and to as low as 2,900 feet Monday night and Tuesday morning. The mountain snowfall could be heavy, said forecaster Anthony Cavallucci.
Next week is expected to bring showers and cooler temperatures through Tuesday, with sunshine on Wednesday and Thursday.
The wind this weekend will scour out polluted air that settled over the Spokane region this week. Pollution the past several days was running in the moderate category, mainly because of wood smoke and other small particles.