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Rain, wind batter Inland Northwest

Wed., Dec. 28, 2011, 7:19 a.m.

Wind gusts to 43 mph were reported this morning at Spokane International Airport as the first in a series of wet Pacific storms batters the region.

A weather front passed over the Inland Northwest during the pre-dawn hours, ending the overnight rain, but also bringing the gusty winds.

Temperatures rose after midnight to 44 degrees and held there until dawn. The typical pre-dawn low is 22 in late December.

Wind gusts to 32 mph from the south-southwest were reported at 7 a.m. at the airport as the winds began to subside. Spokane had 0.22 inches of rain in the past day.

Today’s forecast calls for a 70 percent chance of rain in Spokane and an 80 percent chance in Coeur d’Alene with winds veering to the south and easing to 11 to 13 mph in Spokane.

The high today should be 47 in Spokane and a degree cooler in Coeur d’Alene. The average high temperature for today in Spokane is 32.

Snow levels are rising to 5,000 feet or higher today from the mild air moving in off the Pacific Ocean.

Snow levels should drop by Thursday night with heavy snow possible at higher elevations, but tapering off by Saturday morning.

A steady stream of strong storms is arriving in a series of post-holiday punches with the first one now moving east and the second one bearing down on the region for later today.

A third shot is expected on Thursday night and Friday. Strong winds are possible as a cold front passes on Friday. Gusts to near 33 mph in Spokane and up to 40 mph in the mountains are in the forecsts for Friday.

Spokane could see a mix of rain and snow on Friday night as the last of the three strong cold fronts pass.

Calmer weather is likely over the weekend with some sun likely and temperatures closer to normal with highs near 34 and lows near 22.

At 7 a.m., it was 44 at the Spokane airport, 46 in Coeur d’Alene and 47 at Felts Field near Millwood.

Follow @SR_Weather on Twitter for Inland Northwest forecasts and updates from The Spokesman-Review.
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