A snowstorm Friday foreshadowed the official beginning of winter today and slowed traffic around the Inland Northwest.
Spokane International Airport reported 3 inches of snow at 4 p.m. Friday as snowfall began to ease at nightfall.
A 10-vehicle collision with one fatality blocked both westbound lanes of Interstate 90 seven miles east of Ritzville for several hours Friday afternoon. Westbound drivers were detoured.
The accident occurred at 12:46 p.m.
Elsewhere, traffic moved slowly during the evening commute. The Washington State Patrol responded to at least 90 collisions in Spokane, Adams, Whitman and Stevens counties, and dozens of slideoffs were reported in urban areas.
The National Weather Service is calling for partly sunny skies and a high of 32 in Spokane and Coeur d’Alene today.
Forecasters warned that blowing snow could cover roadways today in the Palouse, where heavier snow totals were predicted. Depths of 4 to 9 inches were expected there and in the central Panhandle and Silver Valley in North Idaho. Even more snow was expected in the mountains.
Maintenance crews had applied deicer to roadways prior to the storm and were continuing with full crews to keep roadways passable.
Friday’s accumulation was predicted to surpass the 3.3 inches of snow measured through Thursday this season at the airport. Normally, Spokane sees 16 inches of snow by this point in the season.
There is a small chance of rain or snow on Sunday, when highs go up to 36.
Another storm packing valley rain is expected on Monday with a high of 40. The storm has moisture flowing into it from subtropical latitudes in the Pacific Ocean. It may also bring strong winds across the lower Columbia Basin, Palouse and Blue Mountains. The storm should also bring snow to the mountains.
Travel weather is forecast to improve starting Tuesday as storm systems are mainly pushed away from the region by higher air pressure. Partly to mostly sunny skies are expected for Tuesday through Thursday, with highs near freezing and lows in the 20s.
Today’s storm is bringing much-needed precipitation to the region. Spokane is nearly 3 inches below normal for precipitation since Oct. 1.