Temperatures below zero across the region this morning met expectations of weather forecasters who said the current winter outbreak would be the strongest in 18 years.
Spokane International Airport was at minus-4 at 7 a.m. while Coeur d’Alene was at 3 degrees, Felts Field at zero and Deer Park at minus-2.
Pullman was 6 degrees while Lewiston was 13.
At 8 a.m., the temperature at Spokane International had come up to minus-1. With a north wind at 3 mph, the wind-chill effect on the skin was minus-10.
Spokane set three daily weather records on Thursday: for snowfall at 5.4 inches, for the coldest maximum temperature at 18 degrees and for the coldest low at 3.
Temperature records were also set in Ephrata, Wash., Pullman and Wenatchee.
Record low maximum temperatures are possible again today and Saturday.
Forecasters are calling for a high of 17 in Spokane and a low Saturday morning of minus-6, under sunny skies.
A very slight chance of snow returns on Saturday, when highs possibly reach 19. Snow chances increase progressively through the weekend, with a 40 percent chance Saturday night, 60 percent chance on Sunday and 70 percent chance Sunday night.
An avalanche watch was issued by the weather service for the Cascades. A separate avalanche warning was issued for the Inland Northwest by the Panhandle Avalanche Center.
Moderating temperatures arrive starting Saturday night when lows reach 13. Sunday’s high may crack the freezing mark as milder Pacific air starts to replace the arctic cold.
Snow accumulations of 3 to 8 inches are possible through Monday.
This has been the coldest late-February storm since 1993, when 13 inches of snow fell and temperatures dropped below zero in Spokane.
Area schools were closed Thursday, but most reopened today. Reardan-Edwall schools, however, remain closed today.
Others were starting two hours late, including all schools in the Nine Mile Falls, Freeman and Walker school districts.
Elementary and middle school buses were running late this morning for Spokane Public Schools. Middle school buses picked up 30 minutes later than usual, and elementary buses picked up an hour later.