Now comes the colder side of autumn, with a series of snowstorms and hard freezes expected into early next week.
The National Weather Service has issued a hazardous weather outlook for lower elevations of the region and a winter storm warning for the mountains of northeast Washington and far North Idaho.
As much as 8 to 12 inches of snow are expected by Friday morning in mountain areas to the north, while other parts of the mountains east of Coeur d’Alene and in the Okanogan region might see 3 to 4 inches.
In Spokane and other lower elevations, “we might see some wet snow,” said forecaster Bob Tobin, of the weather service office in Spokane.
Coeur d’Alene could get 1 to 2 inches by Friday while Spokane is likely to see less than an inch as the atmosphere cools down during the morning.
Another storm is expected by Sunday, which should bring additional accumulations of up to 2 inches in Spokane, Tobin said.
“When the next one comes, the colder air will get pushed south,” he added.
A large ridge of higher pressure is dominating the eastern Pacific Ocean, leading to a northwesterly flow over the Inland Northwest, which is bringing the snow and colder temperatures. It is consistent with the apparent emergence of a La Nina cooling of tropical ocean waters, which typically allows winter conditions to develop in the Pacific Northwest, and was what caused the hard winter last season.
A big swing in temperatures is expected with highs going into the 30s and lows in the middle 20s through Sunday.
Yet another storm on Tuesday night or Wednesday should bring a return to slightly milder weather and a chance that rain will melt any snow and ice lingering in the lower elevations, Tobin said.