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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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As light snow comes early to Spokane, forecaster says it’s ‘very difficult’ to know what to expect next

Sept. 28, 2019 Updated Sat., Sept. 28, 2019 at 4:40 p.m.

Photo evidence of the winter driving conditions over Sherman Pass along State Route 20. (Photo courtesy of James Debus)
Photo evidence of the winter driving conditions over Sherman Pass along State Route 20. (Photo courtesy of James Debus)

After the first measurable September snowfall in Spokane since 1926 and consistent reports of rain in and around Spokane early Saturday, forecasters predicted more of the same through the night.

“What we would expect for the rest of the day is to see periods of rain and snow continue,” said Jon Fox, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service’s Spokane office.

While the National Weather Service reported only two-tenths of an inch at the Spokane airport on Saturday morning, snowfall was heavier at higher elevations. At 5,575-foot Sherman Pass, Washington State Department of Transportation crews were “having a difficult time keeping up with the snow” and “reported several trees that have fallen due to weight of the snow and winds,” according to the department’s Twitter account. The pass had received 4-6 inches of snow as of 2:30 p.m. Saturday.

As a cold front comes in, the high Saturday was expected to be 43 degrees in Spokane, with northeast winds forecast at 17 to 20 mph.

Overnight, temperatures are expected to drop into the low to mid-20s and tocontinue through Sunday morning, Fox said.

“This is a very difficult forecast because the temperatures are going to be so close to freezing,” said Fox.

“For the Spokane area, I would not expect to see any (snow) accumulation through the day,” Fox said, noting that it has snowed off and on since 7:30 or 8 a.m. at the weather center northwest of the city.

Closer to Spokane at Felts Field, which sits at approximately 1,950 feet, it has been all rain, he said.

“That could all change tonight, because we expect cooler temperatures,” Fox said.

Snow may accumulate at higher area elevations, such as near the airport or on the South Hill, he said.

Some forecast models show a small chance of 4 to 6 inches of snow at higher elevations around the region, Fox said.

He did stress, however, that weather patterns are making it difficult to predict.

“This is not a very easy forecast,” Fox said. “It all depends where this band of precipitation ends up over night.”

It’s more likely that those areas will see one to two inches of snow.

“It’s on the radar, and we don’t want to rule it out,” Fox said.

Ground temperatures in the 50s make it difficult for snow to accumulate, he said.

Spokanites can expect gusty winds at about 30 to 35 mph overnight, Fox said.

“That could cause some problems with broken tree branches, especially with heavy snow,” Fox said.

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