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Arctic wind chill turns brutal today, Saturday

The National Weather Service has posted a wind chill watch for brutally cold temperatures aggravated by winds gusting to 20 mph in Spokane today and tonight.

Light snow is possible this morning.

Today’s high temperature of 20 degrees will feel comfortable compared to what is in store when the arctic air flow intensifies on Friday, forecasters said.

Forecasters said a low pressure area forming off the Oregon coast will create an air pressure difference that will trigger the winds and allow severely frigid arctic air to flow into the region from the north.

The National Weather Service early today issued a wind chill watch for the Inland Northwest from Friday evening through Saturday morning. But that is only for the most intense period of wind and cold.

Temperatures without the wind chill will be 15 to 20 degrees below normal.

In Spokane tonight, winds will begin to increase with a forecasted low of 7 degrees. Northeast winds at 8 to 13 mph will feel to exposed skin like a minus-9 degrees.

In Coeur d’Alene, the cold and wind will be even worse with a low of 3 degrees tonight and winds to 11 mph. The wind chill effect is forecast at minus-14.

Across the Inland Northwest, conditions become more severe on Friday as steady winds blow at 11 to 14 mph with gusts to 20 mph under a high of 15 degrees in Spokane. The wind chill feeling will be minus-8 degrees. Sunny skies will prevail.

In Coeur d’Alene, the high Friday should get to 15, but northeast winds could gust to 29 mph. The wind chill effect is forecast at minus-16.

The reinforced arctic air will drop temperatures Friday night to minus-1 in Spokane with a wind chill effect of minus-17 under northeast winds gusting to 21 mph.

In Coeur d’Alene, the Friday night wind chill should get down to minus-19 with steady northeast winds at 18 to 20 mph and gusts to 28 mph.

Winds continue on Saturday with a high of 13 in Spokane and 12 in Coeur d’Alene. Winds start to slacken to around 10 mph.

To the east in western Montana, wind chills could drop to minus-25 to minus-40, creating the risk of frostbite on exposed skin.

The cold continues until the middle of next week when the chance of snow increases under moderating temperatures.

Forecasters are calling for a 50 percent chance of snow by Wednesday with a high of 28 degrees. This morning’s forecast discussion from the weather service said there is a chance of heavy snow based on indications from computer forecast models.