Anyone planning to leave Spokane this weekend may want to reconsider: The National Weather Service says a storm could dump up to 8 inches of snow Friday through Saturday, creating hazardous conditions on roads and highways in the region.
“The main event is going to be coming by late morning Friday and tapering off Saturday afternoon,” said Robin Fox, a meteorologist at the weather service’s Spokane office. “It’s going to affect travel especially Friday – people trying to get home from work or school.”
The snow is expected to snarl traffic on Interstate 90 from Ritzville into North Idaho, on Highway 195 from Spokane to Uniontown and on Highway 2 in the West Plains area.
The Washington Department of Transportation said crews “will be out in force” to maintain highways and urged drivers to use caution when passing snow plows, which have limited rearview visibility.
Fox said temperatures in Spokane are expected to hover around freezing Friday, with snow continuing on and off through Saturday.
Temperatures could reach into the mid-30s on Saturday but will drop again Sunday and even lower next week, she said.
The storm is expected to blanket Eastern Washington and North Idaho, with the heaviest amounts – 6 to 8 inches – falling on Spokane, Colville, Coeur d’Alene, Sandpoint, Kellogg and St. Maries, according to a weather service forecast updated Wednesday evening.
The weather service said there’s also potential for a second significant storm on Sunday.
Spokane has experienced breezy, gusty conditions this week, but the wind should die down as the cold front arrives this weekend.
“We could see some gusts, maybe up to 20 miles an hour, but that’s lighter compared to what we’ve seen the last couple days,” Fox said.
The cold weather could make for safer skiing conditions after a Tuesday avalanche that killed two people, injured five others and left one person unaccounted for as of Wednesday evening at the Silver Mountain Resort in Kellogg.
“The colder air should make that snowpack more stable,” Fox said, “although they’re getting a lot of snow right snow, so it could still be an issue until things settle down a bit.”
The weather service urged drivers to use extra caution Wednesday afternoon as snow resumed falling on Stevens Pass in the Cascades. The Department of Transportation, meanwhile, closed eastbound lanes of I-90 on Snoqualmie Pass due to spinouts and collisions.
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