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

Cold temperatures, new snow make for slippery morning commute in Spokane, Coeur d’Alene

UPDATED: Tue., Jan. 14, 2020

"I'm heading to the Post Office via Spokane transit, the only way to travel in the weather," says Nicolette Olson as she walks along Pines Road in Spokane Valley on Tuesday, Jan 14, 2020. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)
"I'm heading to the Post Office via Spokane transit, the only way to travel in the weather," says Nicolette Olson as she walks along Pines Road in Spokane Valley on Tuesday, Jan 14, 2020. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)

A couple more inches of snow hit the Spokane area Tuesday morning but not enough for a full-city plow, said city Spokeswoman Marlene Feist.

“They’re out in the neighborhoods right now to see what kind of buildup there is,” Feist said Tuesday.

Only trace amounts fell over the rest of the day, according to the National Weather Service.

Ultimately, crews from other utility departments, like wastewater management, were called in to provide additional plowing on streets that may not have been plowed since early in the full-city plow on Friday.

A full-city plow requires the street department to call in additional resources, Feist said. That decision is made based on the forecast and usually happens when there is about 4 inches of snow.

The city uses a magnesium chloride de-icer that works down to temperatures of 10 to 15. The magnesium chloride mix is thought to be less damaging to concrete than unmodified salt.

The city also uses a granular salt-and-sand mixture that works in even colder temperatures, Feist said.

Tuesday night was expected to have the coldest temperatures brought by the arctic air mass encompassing the Spokane area, with a low of 5.

Temperatures should warm up to a high of 25 Wednesday and 32 Thursday, said Jeff Cote, a meteorologist at the NWS Spokane office.

More snow could come Wednesday night into Thursday morning.

“That could be another couple inches, especially toward north Spokane and Coeur d’Alene,” Cote said.

Spokane was blanketed in snow Tuesday, after 2.3 inches of snow was measured at the Spokane International Airport overnight, Cote said.

With a low temperature of 16 overnight, arterials were covered with packed snow and ice, making for a treacherous commute.

Washington State Patrol Officer Jeff Sevigney tweeted that troopers responded to 82 crashes as of Tuesday afternoon, with 71 of those incidents in Spokane.

Stevens Pass, which closed Sunday, remained shut Tuesday afternoon. Snoqualmie Pass is open, but delays of up to 30 minutes should be expected in both directions.

East of the pass, a collision on westbound I-90 at milepost 90 near Ellensburg forced the closure of westbound lanes for a few hours Tuesday morning. The road was re-opened after crews removed the crashed semitruck from the highway.

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