October 3, 2012 in City

Wind churns up dust, triggers power outages

There’s chance of frost tonight until Sunday
By The Spokesman-Review
Colin Mulvany photoBuy this photo

As a windstorm arrives, Whitworth University students Eli Deitz, 19, left, and Elisabeth Spencer, 20, watch pine needles fly from the window ledge of Deitz’s McMillan Hall dorm room on Tuesday.
(Full-size photo)

Garden alert

Falling temperatures could bring the first frost to gardens tonight in the Spokane and Coeur d’Alene areas. The threat of frost continues through Saturday night, and lows will be in the lower 30s all three days, National Weather Service forecasters said.

A dry cold front passing over the Inland Northwest on Tuesday was strong enough to kick up dust and knock down power lines along with branches and dry leaves.

Avista Utilities reported 584 customers without power Tuesday evening, and traffic and street lights were out along Third Avenue downtown.

Wind gusts to 32 mph were recorded at Spokane International Airport, and the National Weather Service posted a red-flag alert for heightened fire danger. Dry air lowered humidity levels, which increased the risk of fires spreading quickly in the wind.

A brush fire at Beacon Hill kicked up around 5:30 p.m. Under the heavy winds, it grew to about 10 acres by Tuesday night, and firefighters expected to fight the blaze all night.

The forecast for today calls for calmer winds out of the northeast at 5 to 10 mph with a high of about 62 in Spokane.

The first frost in much of the Spokane and Coeur d’Alene area could arrive tonight or early Thursday morning, with lows in the lower 30s. The chance of frost continues through Saturday night, forecasters said.

The northerly flow appears to be locking into place through the weekend although highs could bounce back to the low 70s on Sunday and Monday.

The cooler air is arriving from Alaska and Canada behind Tuesday’s cold front.

Air quality Tuesday morning in Spokane was in the good range with an air index reading of 46, but moved into the moderately polluted range with a reading of 67 in the evening due to wind-blown dust.

With the wind dying down today, the northerly flow should bring cleaner air.

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