Snow has started piling up in the mountains of the Pacific Northwest, and forecasters say they expect it will drop to valley floors this week.
Two new storms are expected Wednesday and Friday, the first bringing about 2 inches and the second potentially dropping 4 inches, according to the National Weather Service.
This comes after the season’s first measurable snowfall dropped 1.7 inches at Spokane International Airport on Saturday.
Lookout Pass ski area announced Monday that it would open Friday after 21 inches of snow fell there last weekend.
Snow continued to fall in the mountains of North Idaho on Monday as well as in the Cascades. Eastbound lanes of Interstate 90 at Snoqualmie Pass were closed for a few hours Monday because of heavy snow and accidents.
On Wednesday, snow at lower elevations is expected from U.S. Highway 2 northward and in North Idaho as far south as St. Maries.
“We have an active week ahead,” said John Livingston, meteorologist in charge of the weather service office in Spokane.
The system is carrying a shot of milder ocean air, which should allow snow to switch to rain overnight Wednesday, he said.
But a deep low-pressure area associated with the storm could cause strong winds with gusts to 40 mph in some locations and 32 mph in Spokane on Thursday.
A second storm passing into Oregon and Northern California on Friday could send a wave of snow northward to the Inland Northwest.
The current forecast is calling for just less than 4 inches in Spokane and Coeur d’Alene, but Livingston said those numbers could change as the week goes on.
Whatever snow falls Friday could stick around. Friday’s high is forecast at 35, and Saturday may only get to 31.
Spokane city officials on Monday announced that crews are now on winter snow shifts to allow them to respond to storms and icy conditions as they develop.
De-icer and traction sand are in stock. Trucks have been applying de-icer for at least a week now.
The city has contracted with private plow operators to help in case of a big storm.
Spokane residents are reminded that they should park on the side of the street with odd house numbers this year when plows are expected on their streets.
A light snow was falling as city officials talked about their system for clearing snow. “I think we’ll get a chance to test it out,” said City Administrator Ted Danek.