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Monday, January 20, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

City plans to expand warming shelter capacity as temperatures drop

UPDATED: Tue., Jan. 14, 2020

 (National Weather Service Spokane)
(National Weather Service Spokane)

The city of Spokane will boost emergency warming center capacity after snow blanketed the region and temperatures dropped.

“Programs are expected to see a surge in individuals and families seeking services over the next few days,” said Kirstin Davis, a city spokeswoman.

Tuesday is forecast to be the coldest day this week and the National Weather Service predicted up to 2 inches of snow could fall overnight Monday as an arctic air mass moved into Eastern Washington and North Idaho. High temperatures Tuesday will reach the low 20s and the lows could be in the single digits.

Wednesday’s temperatures will be in the mid-20s before falling into the teens, according to the weather service. Light snow likely will fall a few times this week.

The forecast moderated from last week when the weather service, as late as Friday, predicted temperatures dipping below zero.

City crews finished plowing every city street Sunday night.

Davis emphasized there has been space available in warming shelters recently. The city approved $45,000 in funding Monday to increase capacity for women at City Gate for at least two months, according to a statement.

Davis said the expansion will take place “as soon as possible.”

Spokane Public Schools and most other districts in Spokane County delayed the start of classes for two hours Monday.

Other school districts in Spokane County that announced two-hour delays on Monday were Central Valley, Cheney, Deer Park, Freeman, Great Northern, Liberty, Mead, Medical Lake, Orchard Prairie, Reardan-Edwall, Riverside and West Valley.

Many school districts in North Idaho announced closures, including Coeur d’Alene, Lakeland, Lake Pend Oreille and Post Falls.

Most of Monday’s snow fell before 7 a.m. with a total daytime snow accumulation of less than a half-inch, the weather service said.

Spokane County snow crews focused on clearing the hilly residential areas Monday and plan to move into flat residential areas Tuesday.

State Route 206 to Mount Spokane was closed Monday morning due to fallen trees, the Washington State Patrol said.

Spokane International Airport expects to stay fully operational during the cold spell, said airport spokesman Britt DeTienne.

“Coming into this week so far as we can see there are normal flight operations that are taking place,” DeTienne said. “In terms of how it might impact the airport, we are actually equipped to remain open in the kind of weather that is forecast.”

On the West Side of the state, a winter storm left tens of thousands of without power in the greater Seattle area.

In Western Washington most of the snow fell north of Seattle overnight, with up to 9 inches reported in areas, the Associated Press reported. Seattle schools were delayed two hours while other districts closed.

After finishing avalanche control in the early morning hours, the Washington State Department of Transportation said on Twitter they were waiting for daylight to reassess opening Stevens Pass, which was closed due to icy conditions, but the pass was not open as of 10 p.m.

Dozens of drivers were stranded Sunday night when the pass became impassable because of tree and power line falls, the AP reported.

The Washington State Patrol on Monday escorted convoys of drivers – one with about 100 vehicles – out of the the area, WSP spokeswoman Trooper Heather Axtman told the AP.

“We needed to get them off the pass. From our understanding, people were running out of fuel, running out of water, running out of food.”

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