Spokane city crews were staffing up Monday evening for extra overnight efforts to keep streets clear as a storm of snow and freezing rain was set to turn the Tuesday morning commute into a hazardous undertaking.
Spokane and Coeur d’Alene should have mostly snow, but as much as a tenth of an inch of freezing rain could accompany it early Tuesday from a storm that is tapping into some milder air.
A series of weather advisories and warnings were posted Monday for broad segments of the Pacific Northwest.
The wintry conditions are arriving just ahead of the winter solstice at 2:44 a.m. Wednesday, the official start of winter.
The Spokane and Coeur d’Alene areas were under a winter weather advisory for 3 to 4 inches of snow starting Monday night and continuing until Tuesday at 5 a.m.
Forecasters said they expect slushy conditions to develop Tuesday on roads in the Spokane and Coeur d’Alene areas with temperatures reaching about 40.
Elsewhere, 3 to 6 inches of snow are expected in the valleys of northeast Washington and North Idaho, while 14 inches could blanket the mountains.
The Okanogan region could get 4 to 8 inches in lower elevations and up to 16 inches in the mountains.
Those areas were under winter storm warnings.
Rain and freezing rain could make travel hazardous early Tuesday in the Moses Lake and Odessa areas of the Columbia Basin.
Winds are also accompanying the storms, but have scoured away remnants of the arctic air that arrived over the region last week and sent the temperature to minus 7 on Friday night in Spokane.
Silver Mountain Resort in North Idaho was forced to close because of high winds on Monday, according to its website.
At Mt. Spokane Ski and Snowboard Park, winds forced closure of chair No. 1.
By afternoon Monday, south winds gusted to 43 mph at Spokane International Airport.
Windy weather is expected to persist on Tuesday and could make travel hazardous.
Southwest wind gusts could reach 39 mph in Spokane on Tuesday.
Avalanche warnings are in effect for the west side of the Cascades.
Snoqualmie Pass on Interstate 90 through the Cascades had a mix of snow and slush on Monday. Packed snow was visible on traffic cameras on the eastern approach to the pass.
The state Department of Transportation said westbound traffic Monday had 90-minute delays and eastbound traffic had one-hour delays due to snow, disabled vehicles and chain-up requirements.
Lookout and Fourth of July passes on I-90 in North Idaho had snow and ice on the pavement.
Spokane International Airport had a number of delayed flights at midday.
Heavy precipitation combined with snow melt could cause localized flooding or ponding of water along streets and highways. Ice accumulations may inhibit normal drainage, forecasters said.
Temperatures for the rest of the week should bring highs ranging from the upper 20s to mid-30s with lows in the mid-20s.
Looking ahead to Christmas, light snow is likely on Thursday afternoon and Thursday night, but snow should ease up over the weekend.
Snow that falls just before the holiday should stick around because of continuing cold temperatures.