A new shot of arctic air sent shivers across the Inland Northwest as winds topping 30 mph drove wind-chill readings below zero.
Spokane city officials and the Salvation Army announced that a warming center inside the charity’s community center at 222 E. Indiana St. would open starting Monday night.
The warming center will operate 8 p.m. to 7 a.m. each night when the forecast calls for temperatures to drop to freezing or colder.
Dozens of homeless people were expected to flock to the warming center, which is segregated between men and women.
National Weather Service forecasters in Spokane said they were expecting a minus-14-degree wind-chill reading by dawn today in Spokane. The wind chill is the feeling of the cold and wind on exposed skin.
Coeur d’Alene and Sandpoint were forecast to have wind-chill readings of minus-17 this morning.
At that temperature, frostbite can occur in about 20 minutes on exposed skin, the service said.
Forecasters said the cold will persist through the weekend, with temperatures starting to moderate slowly each day from Thursday through Sunday. Lows will reach the single digits again tonight after a high in Spokane of around 14 today.
A snowstorm is expected this weekend through early Monday.
The peak wind gust Monday at Spokane International Airport was 33 mph.
Sustained winds Monday afternoon reached 30 mph.
The Spokane Regional Health District issued a warning Monday that “exposure to cold temperatures can cause serious or life-threatening health problems. Infants and the elderly are particularly at risk, but anyone, including animals, can be affected.”
Health officials recommended that people stay indoors as much as possible to avoid frostbite and hypothermia.
“Extreme cold presents a dangerous situation that can result in health emergencies in susceptible people, such as those without shelter or who are stranded, or who live in a home that is poorly insulated or without heat,” the health district said in its warning.
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