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Snow showers descend from the northwest

UPDATED: Mon., Nov. 14, 2011, 11:05 a.m.

Snow etches the landscape over the weekend near Hunters, Wash. (Thomas Clouse)
Snow etches the landscape over the weekend near Hunters, Wash. (Thomas Clouse)

Lowlands could see more snow on Wednesday

A potent line of thunderstorms moved across the region early this afternoon after forming to the northwest of Spokane and Coeur d’Alene this morning.

The storm that crossed from Stevens County into northern Spokane County was carrying small pellets of soft hail known as graupel as well as gusty winds. The storm hit the North Side about 1 p.m.

It extended eastward into North Idaho.

Elsewhere, snow piling up on the west slopes of the Cascades forced closure this morning of the uphill eastbound lanes or Snoquamie Pass.

The pass reopened hours later and the driving surface was mostly slushy this afternoon in views from various traffic cameras along the route.

A moist northwesterly flow is bringing snow to the mountains of North Idaho, too, where snow was falling near Lookout Pass this morning. Up to 4 new inches was expected under a winter weather advisory there.

The Columbia Basin and Spokane were under a dry slot caused by the downslope motion of air off the Cascades this morning, but moisture has built up shower clouds across the region this afternoon.

But the break in precipitation won’t last long.

The Spokane region’s flirtation with winter over the weekend might turn into a regular thing by mid-week.

Partly sunny to mostly sunny skies today and Tuesday could change over to snow and rain by Wednesday and Thursday.

National Weather Service forecasters have issued a hazardous weather outlook for 1.6 to 2.8 inches of snow in the Spokane and Coeur d’Alene areas on Wednesday.

Cold weather is going to settle into the region by tonight, allowing the next shot of precipitation on Wednesday to arrive as snow before switching over to a mix of rain and snow Wednesday night and Thursday.

For today, forecasters are calling for a high of 47 with a low in the middle 20s. Gusty winds to 30 mph are expected today.

The high on Tuesday with mostly sunny skies will be in the lower 40s with a low in the middle 20s.

Wednesday’s high should only be about 38 which will allow snow to fall and lead to a quick cooling of the air during the arrival of the storm. Strong winds with gusts of 30 to 50 mph are possible during Wednesday’s storm.

During Saturday’s storm, snow began falling when the air temperature was 40 on the North Side. In less than an hour, the temperature had dropped several degrees and snow began sticking to grass and then pavement.

Spokane International Airport reported 1.7 inches of snow on Saturday, the first of the incoming winter season.

Black ice was reported on roads and highways this morning with several accidents occurring throughout the region. So far, none of the accidents was serious.

Lookout Pass ski area reported 21 inches of new snow over the weekend, enough to allow for opening the resort on Friday.

A winter weather advisory remained in effect for the mountains of the central Idaho Panhandle through 4 p.m. for 1 to 4 new inches of snow. At 10 a.m., it was snowing and 25 degrees at Mullan Pass near Lookout Pass. Winds there were gusting to 38 mph.

A wind advisory is in effect today for gusts to 45 mph across the Palouse region from Rosalia southward to Lewiston and along the Snake River upstream from Clarkston.

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