Local news

Less snow expected in storm; thaw, rain to follow

National Weather Service forecasters on Tuesday downsized predicted snowfall amounts for a storm expected to surge inland through today.

They were calling for 3 to 7 inches in Spokane and 5 to 9 inches in Coeur d’Alene, with most accumulations occurring through about noon today and highs reaching 35 degrees in both cities.

A winter storm warning is in effect until 4 p.m.

Earlier this week, forecasters said up to a foot of snow could fall.

The city of Spokane and other agencies spent much of Tuesday spreading deicer in preparation for the storm. Spokane officials are encouraging drivers to allow extra time for travel today.

Heavy snow in the mountains could increase avalanche risks.

Snowfall predictions for Snoqualmie Pass on Interstate 90 are impressive. The weather service called for 16 to 24 inches of snow from the storm through today, but rain is expected there tonight.

Temperatures will rise in the Spokane area following today’s snow, turning precipitation to rain in the valleys and lower mountain elevations. Highs in Spokane and Coeur d’Alene may reach the lower to middle 40s Thursday through Sunday.

The milder air will be accompanied by a series of storms through the weekend that will bring rain to at least the middle elevations in the mountains. The thaw could raise river levels by this weekend, forecasters said.

From 3 to 6 inches of rain could fall in the lower and middle elevations of the mountains through Sunday. Valley areas away from the mountains may see 1 to 2 inches of rain.

A hydrologic outlook issued Tuesday said, “The combination of warm weather with significant rainfall is likely to melt most of the snowpack below 4,000 feet.”

Ice jams and flooding are possible, especially on the Palouse, Coeur d’Alene, St. Joe and Spokane river systems. Small streams may also spill their banks.

Flooding also is possible in fields and along roads in rural areas and near blocked drainage inlets in the urban areas.

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