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Wind chill watch issued for Inland NW

UPDATED: Mon., Feb. 3, 2014, 2:42 p.m.

Frigid arctic air and gusty winds raise risk of frostbite

The National Weather Service has issued a wind chill watch for much of the Inland Northwest as an arctic front drops south, bringing a frigid combination of northerly wind and cold starting on Tuesday night.

Low temperatures in Eastern Washington will hit single digits. Winds could gust to 23 mph Tuesday night and Wednesday.

Light snow has been falling today across the Spokane and Coeur d’Alene areas, but clear skies are likely after today across the state.

A cold front is currently draped from west to east across the Spokane and Coeur d’Alene area, bringing light snow and accumulations of about an inch at lower elevations. As that front moves southward, it will open the door from dry arctic air to flow into the region, mainly from the Purcell Trench and the Okanogan River Valley.

In Spokane, lows will be dropping to the single digits and daytime highs will be in the teens. A low of 1 degree is forecast for Spokane Tuesday night.

Wind gusts of 20 to 23 mph on Tuesday night in Spokane will make temperatures feel like minus-20 to exposed skin. Coeur d’Alene could see a low of minus-1 degree Tuesday night and wind gusts to 25 mph.

Sandpoint, which is directly exposed to arctic air flow along the Purcell Trench and Lake Pend Oreille may see gusts to 36 mph Tuesday with a low overnight Tuesday of minus-1. The wind chill Tuesday night is forecast at minus-22 in Sandpoint.

The wind chill watch is in effect from 12 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Wednesday. Forecasters said it will be cold enough that frostbite could set in within 30 minutes of exposure.

A wind chill watch is issued when the combination of wind and cold create the potential for minus-20 or colder wind chills.

Today’s snowfall is being produced by a band of heavier clouds that is moving from north to southwest across the Spokane and Coeur d’Alene areas. As much as an inch of snow may accumulate through about noon, forecasters said at 10 a.m.

In Western Washington, forecasters say low temperatures Tuesday through Friday will be in the teens and highs only in the 20s.

The Weather Service says precipitation returns to the area Saturday and there’s a good chance it will start as snow.

Temperatures will moderate starting Saturday with highs reaching the upper 20s by Sunday.