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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Snow melt could bring black ice early Wednesday

Motorists and pedestrians navigate slick streets on Tuesday evening, Dec. 20, 2016, in Browne’s Addition in Spokane, Wash. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
Motorists and pedestrians navigate slick streets on Tuesday evening, Dec. 20, 2016, in Browne’s Addition in Spokane, Wash. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

Above-freezing temperatures Tuesday melted a lot of snow and helped clear roads, but remaining wet areas could be icy Wednesday morning.

Officials are warning that black ice poses a threat for Wednesday traffic, especially in the morning.

It might also make parking lots, driveways and sidewalks treacherous.

Tuesday’s 2 inches of snow in the Spokane area led to numerous crashes, including a traffic-snarling accident involving a jackknifed semitruck on westbound Interstate 90 at the Maple Street interchange.

Calmer weather is expected Wednesday under mostly sunny skies and a high of 33.

The next chance of snow arrives on Thursday afternoon and Thursday night, but accumulations should be light.

Light snow continues Friday, and then 1 to 2 inches are possible Friday night.

The chance of snow persists through Saturday night, but eases off on Christmas Day.

“It looks like light snow starting Thursday evening,” said forecaster Andrew Kalin of the National Weather Service in Spokane.

The chance of snow continues through Christmas Eve, giving the region a likelihood for a white holiday.

Forecast models are showing some uncertainty with how much will fall, Kalin said.

Highs should be in the low to middle 30s with lows in the upper teens to 20s through the weekend. Christmas may see a high of about 29 and a small chance of snow with a low of 16 after dark.

No one was injured in the jackknife accident on I-90 at Maple Street about 2:30 a.m. Tuesday, one of the more dramatic events triggered by the snow and ice storm.

All lanes were closed until about 9 a.m. because of difficulty getting the wreckage cleared.

The closure resulted in long backups for westbound drivers going to work in the downtown area.

Once the lanes opened, traffic returned to normal.

There were multiple crashes near the I-90 Pines exit in Spokane Valley, WSP said. One crash involved a WSP trooper whose car was struck while responding to a crash. No injuries were reported.

WSP closed U.S. Highway 195 from Pullman to the Idaho state line because of numerous crashes on a road surface covered with ice from freezing rain about 6 a.m., troopers said.

A few vehicles were abandoned along the roadway, but travel lanes were clear as of 8 a.m.

While Spokane saw 2 inches of snow Tuesday morning, the weather service received reports of 6 inches of snow at Newport in Pend Oreille County.

A wind advisory for much of Eastern Washington expired at 5 p.m. Tuesday.

By 11 a.m., southwest winds were gusting to 41 mph at Spokane International Airport.

Sandpoint and the Lewiston area were seeing gusts near 45 mph.

Mt. Spokane Ski and Snowboard Park closed its No. 1 chairlift for a second day in a row due to winds.

The weather triggered power outages.

Kootenai Electric Cooperative had 1,100 customers out of power north of Coeur d’Alene, but had electricity flowing again by late morning.

Avista Utilities reported about 175 customers had lost power in the morning, and an afternoon outage affected about 400 customers in the Wallace area.

Mountain areas saw healthy accumulations. Lookout Pass reported 18 inches of fresh snow. Mount Spokane had 10 inches.

Heavy snow on old snowpack led to an avalanche warning for the North Idaho mountains through 6 a.m. Wednesday.

Avalanche warnings do not apply to developed ski areas which control snow slide risks.

Snow removal was in progress across the region Tuesday with above-freezing temperatures helping get the job done.

Post Falls crews reported they completed plowing by early afternoon, but warned that black ice could form overnight.

Schools

Many districts on the Palouse and other rural areas were closed or delayed as a result of the snow.

Districts that closed included Colfax, Freeman, Garfield-Palouse and Moses Lake.

Classes were delayed by two hours for the Liberty, Nine Mile Falls, Creston, Oakesdale, Omak, Pullman, Wilbur, St. John-Endicott, Warden and Washtucna school districts.

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