Travelers be warned: The National Weather Service predicts a strong storm system will bring heavy mountain snow to Eastern Washington and the Idaho Panhandle early next week, along with frigid temperatures and freezing rain.
A low-pressure storm system will roll in from northwestern Canada beginning early Sunday, bringing with it heavy snowfall in the mountains. The National Weather Service predicts as much as two feet of snow in the Cascade Mountains beginning Sunday and into Monday, snarling the drive for holiday travelers heading over the passes. Forecasters also predict a foot and a half of snow in the Idaho Panhandle mountains.
Heavy, wet snow is expected Sunday morning in valley areas, including Colville, Deer Park, Chewelah and Sandpoint, forecasters predict.
Gusts above 50 miles an hour are possible across the mountain ridges in the Cascades and the Northeast Blue Mountains, forcasters say. Gusts between 40 and 50 miles per hour will sweep across the Upper Columbia Basin into the Spokane and Palouse areas. A second period of strong winds is expected Monday night through Tuesday night, with gusts up to 30 to 40 miles an hour down the Purcell Trench.
Temperatures will remain mild in Spokane on Sunday, with highs in the 40s and rain throughout the afternoon. Sunday night, however, temperatures are expected to drop rapidly as a cold front moved into the region. Highs in the 30s to low 40s are expected for Monday morning, cooling to the low teens and single digits by Tuesday. Light, dry snow is expected early next week as drier air pushes into the region.
The National Weather Service also warns that an air stagnation advisory is in effect until 10 a.m. Sunday throughout Eastern Washington and North Idaho. Increased pollutants in the air due to poor air quality could aggravate allergy and sinus issues.