Old Man Winter is turning downright mean this week, promising to bring some of the coldest and windiest weather of the season.
An arctic blast will intensify during the day today, sending overnight lows near zero with north winds gusting to 23 mph in Spokane.
Steady winds should be blowing at 10 to 20 mph.
North Idaho should see even stronger winds with gusts to 28 mph in Coeur d’Alene and 31 mph in Sandpoint tonight and Wednesday.
On Monday, the National Weather Service issued a wind chill watch starting at midnight tonight and continuing until 10 a.m. Wednesday.
Forecasters said they expect the wind chill on exposed skin to drop below minus 21 in North Idaho and minus 17 in Spokane.
Those kinds of wind chills can cause frostbite within 30 minutes, forecasters said.
The winds should ease by later this week, but the cold is going to remain entrenched until the weekend when the chance of snow returns to the forecast. Freezing rain is possible early next week in an anticipated warming trend, forecasters said.
The arctic air is being carried southward behind a slow-moving cold front that crossed the Spokane and Coeur d’Alene areas Monday, dropping about an inch of light, fluffy snow at lower elevations.
Highs this week will be in the teens.
This week could exceed the cold in an earlier arctic air intrusion two months ago. Until now, the coldest night in Spokane this season was minus 2 on Dec. 8. The arctic air arrived two days earlier with wind gusts to 23 mph in Spokane.
The average high for today is 37 with an average low of 26.
The U.S. Drought Monitor shows Spokane and North Idaho are near a moderate drought.
Spokane has had 15.3 inches of snow so far this season compared to an average of 34.4 inches through Sunday.
Since Oct. 1, precipitation in Spokane is less than half of normal, with only 3.37 inches measured at Spokane International Airport, well below the average of 7.7 inches for the period.
The weather service’s two-week outlook calls for a return to average temperatures and possible arrival of above-average precipitation.