Winter weather sampler forecast for Inland NW

TUESDAY, JAN. 4, 2011, 7:52 A.M.

The forecast for the next several days should bring a sampling of winter weather typical of the Inland Northwest: stagnant air, snow, sleet, rain, slush and then more cold.

A broad storm system is bearing down on the Inland Northwest and is threatening to bring snowfall of at least a few inches to the Spokane and Coeur d’Alene areas starting tonight through Wednesday night and again on Friday night and Saturday.

Less than 1 inch of snow is possible in Spokane tonight followed by 1 to 2 inches on Wednesday and then a half inch on Wednesday night.

In the meantime, a stagnant air advisory posted on Monday will remain in effect until Thursday morning when the storm will have had a chance to scour out the lingering and sullied arctic air over the region. The ban is in place in urban parts of Spokane County, including Spokane Valley and Newman Lake, in what’s known as the smoke control zone.

A stage-2 burning ban posted on Monday succeeded in improving air quality overnight from a 90 rating Monday afternoon to a 74 rating this morning. Both are in the category of moderate pollution. In this case, the pollution was being caused by wood smoke.

Today’s forecast calls for highs in the middle 20s with cloudy skies as a low-elevation of stratus deck persists across the region.

Milder conditions arrive on Thursday and snow should change to rain with a high in the middle 30s. The snow level rises on Friday to 2,900 feet, which is well above the valley and plateau floors of the region. A high of 37 is possible in Spokane and Coeur d’Alene on Friday.

A cold front arrives Friday night to bring a renewed chance of snow through Saturday.

Temperatures then begin to drop so that by Sunday the high will be only near 20 and the low Sunday night will be about 9.

At 7 a.m. today, it was 20 at Spokane International Airport, 23 at Felts Field, 21 in Coeur d’Alene, 19 at Deer Park and 17 at Pullman.

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