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Freezing rain advisory dropped

Fri., Jan. 21, 2011, 7:39 a.m.

The National Weather Service has issued a freezing rain advisory for most of the Inland Northwest after an expected storm unexpectedly arrived as freezing rain in Spokane at 8 a.m.

The freezing rain advisory was allowed to expire after temperatures rose above freezing this afternoon. A 1 p.m., the temperature was 36 at Spokane International Airport and in Coeur d’Alene.

A large area of precipitation was moving through the Columbia Basin, Spokane and Coeur d’Alene areas today and was carrying warmer air aloft, sending rain into a cold layer along the ground. Spokane International Airport was at 26 degrees at 7 a.m. while Felts Field and Coeur d’Alene were at 27.

At 10:30 a.m., the temperature downtown was still below freezing at 31.

Forecasters earlier had said precipitation would begin as snow and then turn to rain later this morning, but it actually arrived as freezing rain over much of the region. Slippery conditions were widespread by 9 a.m. The Spokane sheriff’s office asked drivers to stay off roads until the icy conditions melt away.

Conditions have now improved, although there are icy patches and slushy conditions on residential streets.

In an update this morning, forecasters said a heavier band of precipitation arriving by this afternoon would scour out the cold air and end the freezing rain threat.

Improving weather is likely from Saturday through early next week as the storm track shifts northward into Canada, leaving the Inland Northwest with dry and partly sunny weather.

The combination of rain and above-freezing temperatures is going to stop the St. Joe River from dropping over the weekend. The St. Joe at St. Maries will remain less than a foot below flood stage, forecasters said.

The St. Maries River at Santa is going to remain swollen as well.

Showers may linger Saturday in the vicinity of the region’s mountains, but Spokane is likely to see some sun this weekend.

Highs are going to hover in the upper 30s and low 40s through Thursday with lows in the middle and upper 20s.

Those temperatures are several degrees above normal for this time of the year.

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