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Snowy blast slickens roads

Thu., Dec. 20, 2012, midnight

150 collisions reported throughout Spokane County

Wintry weather caused problems for drivers in the region and kept emergency responders busy Wednesday.

Roads became slick with snow, slush and ice, and snow combined with gusty winds made travel especially difficult in some areas, such as the West Plains.

The Spokane Police Department and the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office responded to a combined 150 collisions after 4 p.m. Wednesday. At 8:45 p.m., they were working to clear an eight- to 10-car pileup that was blocking Belle Terre Avenue and Best Court in south Spokane Valley.

Spokane police closed northbound Monroe Street south of Garland Avenue on Wednesday afternoon due to poor driving conditions. They had responded to 26 non-injury collisions and six injury collisions in the city as of 3 p.m.

The Washington State Patrol had responded to 59 collisions and slide-offs between about 2 p.m. and 8:50 p.m. in the Spokane area, according to Trooper Troy Briggs. Far fewer collisions and slide-offs were reported in North Idaho, despite slippery road conditions there.

The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning for the area Wednesday afternoon to 10 a.m. today, but said snow is expected to taper off this morning.

Temperatures in the Spokane area could reach 35 to 37 degrees this afternoon, turning any snow accumulations into slush, especially in the lower elevations. Breezy conditions will likely continue today, with a southeast wind of 10 to 20 mph and gusts up to 30 mph.

Locations north of Spokane could get pummeled with 6 to 11 inches in the valleys and 10 to 18 inches in the mountains today.

“Areas north of Spokane are going to get quite a bit more snow,” said weather service meteorologist Jeremy Wolf.

There’s a slight chance of rain and snow Friday, with another round of rain and snow expected in the area Saturday.

Mountain passes in the region are expected to receive significant snowfall leading to hazardous travel conditions through the holiday season.

While it’s still too soon to say for sure, “chances are looking fairly good for a white Christmas, especially across the higher elevations of Spokane,” Wolf said.

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