The almost snowless start to 2018 in the Inland Northwest is about to change.
The National Weather Service is predicting 3 to 4 inches of snow to fall in the Spokane area Wednesday night and Thursday, with a larger forecast of 7 to 8 inches in the Coeur d’Alene area. Farther north and mountainous areas could see even more.
The first part of the snow system should push in late Wednesday with the bulk of the system hitting just around drive time Thursday morning, said Jeff Cote, a weather service meteorologist. Snow should fall for most of Thursday before tapering off into the afternoon and evening. A few lingering snow showers could stick around Friday.
Even with the full brunt of the storm, so far in January marks historic lows for snowfall in the Inland Northwest. Only 0.2 of an inch of snow has fallen in Spokane since Jan. 1.
Average accumulation by Jan. 9 is right around 4.7 inches in the Spokane area, which is 4.5 inches more than we’ve seen this year. The highest was in 1950, when 29.3 inches blanketed the region.
In Sandpoint, 0.1 of an inch has fallen so far this year compared to an average of 7.2 inches. In Pullman, none has been recorded.
Cote said forecasters are shifting predictions that this year’s winter could be in the midst of a weak La Nina. A La Nina winter in 2016-17 brought more than 61 inches of snow to Spokane and weeks of frigid temperatures.
Instead, Cote said it’s looking to be a neutral winter, which means less snow and more moderate temperatures.
Marlene Feist, strategic development director for the city’s Public Works Division, said the streets department will monitor weather to determine if plowing is necessary. She said crews would de-ice and sand if needed, especially on hills and arterials.
The last full-city plow was completed on New Year’s Eve. Most of the snow has since melted thanks to temperatures in the mid- and upper-30s for much of January.