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Wind churns up dust, triggers power outages

Wed., Oct. 3, 2012

There’s chance of frost tonight until Sunday

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.

Tags: weather

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