March 22, 2012 in City

Slush, snow causing numerous accidents

From staff reports
Dan Pelle photo

Snow blanketed the Inland Northwest this morning, including at Hamblen Elementary School.
(Full-size photo)(All photos)

Studded-tire season extended

With forecasts calling for winter driving conditions at least through the Easter weekend, the Washington State Department of Transportation said in a news release that the studded-tire season would be extended through the end of the day April 16.

Studded tires are legal in Washington from Nov. 1 to March 31, unless the transportation department grants an extension. Officials don’t anticipate any further extensions beyond April 16, the release said.

“Our crews will still be out working, but we need drivers to check the forecast, carry chains and drive for conditions,” said Chris Christopher, director of maintenance operations. “Close to 100 inches of snow came down on Snoqualmie Pass between March 15 and April 15 last year, and drivers can expect to see snow in the mountains well into May.”

Numerous accidents were reported throughout the Spokane region this morning due to a wet mix of rain and snow that made for messy roads.

The storm system is moving off to the east this afternoon, and National Weather Service forecasters are calling for partly sunny skies and a high of 42 within the next several hours. Gusty winds are possible, and snow showers could persist through Friday.

This morning around Spokane, accidents were reported along Interstate 90, westbound at the Sprague Avenue exit, eastbound at Broadway Avenue, eastbound at Barker Road and westbound at Medical Lake. Accidents and slide-offs also were reported at Third Avenue and Maple Street and eastbound on Bigelow Gulch Road near Weile Avenue.

A winter weather advisory was downgraded to a hazardous weather outlook at mid-morning. A winter storm warning remained in effect for the Idaho mountains east and southeast of Coeur d’Alene.

Snowfall totals were impressive in some locales with up to 7 inches reported north of Spokane in Elk and Bonners Ferry.

The official accumulation at Spokane International Airport was 4.3 inches.

Elsewhere, Chattaroy had 6 inches; Newport, 5 inches; Davenport, 4.9 inches; Sandpoint, 4 inches; Athol and Mullan, 4.7 inches; and Spirit Lake, 4 inches.

Forecasters said the higher accumulations were expected 2,300 feet.

The city of Spokane reported 20 plows, de-icers, and sanders hit city streets this morning.

KHQ was reporting school closures at Boundary County, West Bonner County and Lake Pend Oreille school districts in Idaho.

I-90 eastbound over Lookout Pass at the Idaho-Montana border was closed for several hours Wednesday night and early this morning due a jacknifed semi, the Idaho State Police reported. The roadway was closed around 10:40 p.m. Wednesday and reopened around 3 a.m. this morning, the ISP said.

There are five comments on this story. Click here to view comments >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email