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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Slippery roadways expected to greet Monday morning commuters

Traffic creeps along Riverside Avenue in downtown Spokane on Sunday, Jan 8, 2017, during a light snow shower. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)

Freezing rain and heavy snowfall Sunday afternoon and overnight were expected to create hazardous driving conditions Monday morning for those driving to work, taking children to school and otherwise trying to get where they need to be.

“Anybody commuting in the morning is going to have to be cautious and take it slow,” Bryce Williams, National Weather Service forecaster, said Sunday.

The weather service forecast called for 2 to 3 inches of new snow in the Spokane area by Monday morning. Throw in freezing rain that fell at times Sunday and temperatures in the mid- to upper 20s, and morning commuters will have a tough time getting their vehicles to stick to roads.

“Ice that does fall today, once it gets colder, it’s probably going to stick around,” Williams said Sunday. “That’s probably not ideal travel conditions.”

Conditions aren’t expected to improve by Monday afternoon. The forecast calls for snow to fall in the area during the day, with another 1 or 2 inches of fresh powder expected by the afternoon. High temperatures could reach just below freezing but will drop again to the mid- to upper 20s Tuesday.

Areas surrounding Spokane will experience more or less the same amount of snowfall as Spokane through Monday, though forecasters expect Coeur d’Alene could see an inch more.

“We’re getting kind of wave after wave of these precipitation makers,” Williams said.

This season, Spokane International Airport had recorded 28.2 inches of snow as of Sunday afternoon. That’s about 3 more inches than the 25.3 inches recorded for the same period last year.

Temperatures in Spokane have not been above freezing since Dec. 29, when the high hit 36.

The Washington State Patrol was swamped Sunday with weather-related collisions. District 4, which covers seven Eastern Washington counties, reported as many as 70 accidents because of poor driving conditions. No major injuries were reported.

The Idaho State Police reported numerous slide-offs in the Panhandle but no major injuries. Eight slide-offs alone were reported on state Highway 41 between Post Falls and Rathdrum.

At the Spokane airport, runway closures forced cancellation or delay in the departure or arrival of several flights Sunday.

The city of Spokane tweeted Sunday evening that about 20 snow crews were deployed, focusing sanding and de-icing efforts on hills, arterials, emergency routes and Spokane Transit Authority bus routes.