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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Mighty wind stirs up dust but no major trouble

Even with a few rain showers Wednesday, the fields off U.S. Highway 395 north of Spokane were bone dry. Air quality suffered from blowing dirt. 
 (Jed Conklin / The Spokesman-Review)

High winds felled trees, cut power and darkened the skies of the Inland Northwest on Wednesday, but area police agencies reported no serious accidents or fires related to the weather.

The wind reached a peak around 2 p.m. with a gust of 55 mph at Spokane International Airport.

About 800 Avista customers lost power Wednesday. An outage affecting about 200 occurred when a portable car port was blown into some wires in north Spokane, said Avista spokesman Patrick Lynch.

By 10:30 p.m., power was restored to all but six customers.

Air quality suffered from the blowing dirt, and the Spokane County Air Pollution Control Authority recommended that people with lung problems, the elderly and infants remain indoors, said Lisa Woodard, SCAPCA spokeswoman.

“Being that we are in a drought and it’s so darn dry, you would expect it,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Paul Bos. “We’ll probably get more dust than usual this spring.”

Air quality is expected to improve today, Woodard said.

Lightning strikes were observed in Deer Park, Colville and Pullman. A tenth of an inch of rain or more fell in several locations in the Idaho Panhandle by about 9 p.m., said meteorologist Bob Tobin. Less rain fell in Spokane.

Precipitation throughout the region has been far below normal this winter, and Wednesday’s storm did little to change that.

However, a surprising snowstorm closed Snoqualmie Pass in both directions for several hours Wednesday night after numerous accidents were reported on Interstate 90, the State Patrol said.

No serious injuries were reported.

I-90 over the pass was closed eastbound east of North Bend, and westbound at Easton because of numerous spun-out vehicles blocking the highway, the state Department of Transportation said.