Heavy snow has been falling in portions of North Idaho today with up to 15 inches measured in the Bonners Ferry area through about 1 p.m.
At the same time, winter storm warnings were issued for Wednesday and Thursday for Northeast Washington and North Idaho as a new storm system and arctic front arrive.
The 15 inches were measured by a trained spotter just south of Bonners Ferry today, while another spotter six miles to the northeast had 12.5 inches as of early this afternoon.
Heavy snow was also falling in Latah County and portions of the Washington Palouse. The Idaho State Police were asking drivers in Latah County to stay off the roads for the time being. Moscow had 6 inches of snow as of about 1:20 p.m., according to a trained spotter.
A state highway camera at Uniontown on U.S. HIghway 195 showed a very white landscape and mostly white travel lanes.
Those locales to the north and south of the Spokane and Coeur d’Alene areas appeared to be getting the heaviest precipitation in the region today. Other spots were reporting sun or sun breaks between light showers.
Light snow accumulations in Spokane and Coeur d’Alene overnight and showers during the day have signaled the start of what may be an extended period of late winter weather.
This afternoon’s forecast is calling for up to 8 inches of snow on Wednesday and Wednesday night in Spokane, Coeur d’Alene and other parts fo the region. Some areas may seen 6 to 7 inches, including Colville, Pullman and Deer Park.
National Weather Service forecasters said a low-pressure area centered near Sandpoint this morning is creating heavy snow showers primarily in the North Idaho mountain areas but also in Eastern Washington.
The showers should persist through the day, bringing light additional accumulations to some areas and heavy accumulations elsewhere.
Another low pressure is forecast to form Wednesday along an arctic front that will drape across the Columbia Basin on Wednesday.
The positioning of that low on Wednesday will determine which locals receive the heaviest accumulations, said John Livingston, head meterologist the National Weather Service office in Spokane.
The high in downtown Spokane today was approaching 37, but that’s the warmest it will be for most of the next week. Lows below zero are expected by Thursday night. Southwest wind gusts to about 23 mph are also in the forecast.
Spokane saw less than a half-inch of snow by daybreak today while Coeur d’Alene had just over a half-inch. Colville had just over an inch.
The Idaho State Police had been asking semitrucks to chain up in Bonners Ferry, Idaho, because of slippery conditions. Visibility has been as low as a quarter mile there, police said this morning.
The worst conditions were on the north hill area north of Bonners Ferry.
Various weather warnings and advisories are in effect today for snow and cold through the next several days.
A hazardous weather outlook is in effect for most of Eastern Washington while a winter weather advisory for 3 to 5 inches of snow is in effect for Coeur d’Alene and other low-elevation locations in North Idaho.
Snow accumulations of a foot or more are possible in the central Idaho Panhandle mountains.
In addition to the Spokane area, forecasters have issued a wind advisory for today for Interstate 90 near Ellensburg in the Kittitas Valley.
Also, the winter weather will affect the Cascades and possibly Western Washington, where a range of warnings and watches are in effect.
Snoqualmie Pass was shut down in both directions about 1 p.m. from snow and accidents. Chains had been required on Snoqualmie Pass earlier today on vehicles without all-wheel drive, and then only traction tires were required after conditions improved. Packed snow was reported on I-90 at Lookout and Fourth of July passes in North Idaho.
An arctic air mass moving south out of the interior of Alaska is due to arrive in the early hours on Thursday and send temperatures to minus-2 in Spokane Thursday and Friday nights. Highs will only reach the teens from Thursday through Saturday, and may set records for the coldest maximums each day.
Below-normal temperatures and chances of precipitation are expected next week.