Those hoping for the balmy approach of spring may get a rude awakening in the Inland Northwest this month.
March is expected to begin in Spokane with between 2 to 4 inches of snowfall by Friday night, according to forecasters. Overnight snow is expected to turn to rain in the city as temperatures fluctuate from the low 30s during the nighttime hours to near 40 degrees in the afternoon.
Rain is expected to begin in Spokane late this afternoon, turning over to snow by 10 p.m. Overnight totals could reach as much as 2 inches by Thursday’s commute. The snowfall will transition back to rain in the city Thursday morning, according to forecasters.
“Even if it snows during the day, it’s going to melt when it hits the road surfaces,” said Laurie Nisbet, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Spokane. “It may accumulate in shaded grassy areas.”
Snowfall totals will be higher in mountains of northeastern Washington and north Idaho.
“The heavier precipitation’s going to be focused up there, where it will be a few degrees cooler and the snow has a better chance of accumulating,” Nisbet said. “There will definitely be lots of snow in the mountains.”
The Weather Service has issued a winter storm advisory for much of Spokane and Kootenai counties, and a winter storm warning for Stevens, Pend Oreille, Ferry, and Okanogan counties through 4 a.m. Friday morning.
Area mountain passes will see their most treacherous driving conditions during the day on Thursday, according to forecasters.
Temperatures in the Spokane and Coeur d’Alene areas are expected to dip into the upper 20s and lower 30s overnight through Saturday. High temperatures may reach 40 degrees, with the barrage of rain and snow expected to subside Saturday.
The Spokane International Airport has already received 44 inches of snowfall this snow season, according to the National Weather Service. That’s 4 inches more than normal, but nearly a full foot less than this time last year, when the region was blanketed with 5 feet of powder.
Forecast models indicate temperatures will remain colder than average during the month of March for the region, Nisbet said, indicating this week’s round of snow may not be the last for the year.
“Even though we’ll be warming, we’ll still have periods of colder than normal temperatures,” Nisbet said.