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More snow, brief warm-up, cold

Tue., Jan. 4, 2011

Five inches forecast; chill back Saturday

The first snowstorm of the year is heading toward the Inland Northwest today and could bring another 5 inches of accumulation to the region by Thursday evening.

National Weather Service forecasters said milder air from the southwest is going to be pulled northward by the storm, creating ample precipitation.

However, accumulations should remain well below the amounts from last Tuesday and Wednesday, when a major storm stalled over North Idaho and Eastern Washington, dumping snow for hours.

One location near Clark Fork last week reported 28.5 inches of snow, and many spots measured 9 to 11 inches.

This week’s storm could bring heavy snow to the Cascades, where 2 feet is possible.

Steven Van Horn, forecaster for the National Weather Service, said milder air associated with a warm front on Wednesday could bring a mix of precipitation and possibly freezing rain to the Columbia Basin from Moses Lake southward.

On Thursday, the snow level in Spokane is forecast to rise to 2,100 feet, and temperatures both Thursday and Friday are likely to reach the middle 30s. Rain and snow are possible both days.

But the warm-up will be short. A cold front on Saturday night will bring breezy conditions and a new shot of cold Canadian air. Wind gusts could reach 25 mph. The high Sunday may only reach 20.

“The really cold air, it looks like, is going to be to our east,” Van Horn said.

He said the two-day snowfall predictions for Wednesday and Thursday are 4.9 inches in Spokane, 5 inches in Coeur d’Alene, 2.1 inches in Pullman, 7.4 inches in Sandpoint, 5.8 inches in Colville and 1 inch in Ritzville. Any accumulation Thursday night and Friday should be light.

Near the halfway point of the winter season, Spokane International Airport has seen 43.3 inches of snowfall, or about twice the normal amount through the end of December. The airport on Monday had 6 inches on the ground.

The airport measured 8.8 inches of snow during last week’s heavy storm.

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