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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Weathercatch: Region likely to experience first smattering of snow, even if it’s just fleeting flurry

Ever wonder why frost forms on windshields even if it’s above freezing outside? Because glass doesn’t retain heat well, its temperature can drop to 32 degrees or less quicker than the surrounding air.  (Courtesy of Linda Weiford)
Ever wonder why frost forms on windshields even if it’s above freezing outside? Because glass doesn’t retain heat well, its temperature can drop to 32 degrees or less quicker than the surrounding air. (Courtesy of Linda Weiford)
By Nic Loyd and Linda Weiford For The Spokesman-Review

After a remarkably warm first half of October, fall-like weather has asserted itself in the Inland Northwest. What’s more, we should even get a shot of wintry conditions this weekend.

On Oct. 15, a number of communities woke up to the first frost of the season brought on by a surge of cold temperatures that arrived only a week after weather in the mid-70s and low 80s. Early that morning, temperatures hit a low of 32 degrees in Spokane and 26 degrees in Colville and Republic.

The rapid onset of deep-into-autumn weather didn’t loosen its grip much, with strong winds rolling through much of the Inland Northwest on Friday followed by another windy day on Monday . (Fortunately, not the magnitude of the windstorm that brought gusts of 62 mph to Spokane on Oct. 13 and caused power outages for thousands across the region.)

It’s interesting to note that Deer Park, only 23 miles north of Spokane, saw its first frost on Sept. 8 – more than a month before Spokane and its surrounding areas. Why is that? For starters, Deer Park’s elevation is slightly higher than Spokane’s. The town is also located in a broad basin where nights can become colder with stronger overnight inversions. And finally, Spokane tends to run warmer because of a phenomenon known as the urban heat island effect, where added heat comes from a city’s concentration of solar radiation-absorbing surfaces such as concrete and asphalt. Being more rural, Deer Park runs naturally cooler.

A blast of cold air is predicted to descend over the Pacific Northwest, bringing tonight’s temperatures in Spokane into the low 20s, while Friday’s high may not break 40 degrees. Saturday is expected be considerably colder, with a low of 15 degrees and a high of about 35, and Sunday’s weather should be similar. We may see episodes of rain that change into snow if temperatures remain low enough to transform the moisture.

If this happens, chances are it won’t amount to much accumulation except in the higher elevations. Instead, we’ll get a chilly light rain that briefly changes to snow flurries, or a mixture of the two.

Regardless of whether it snows, the atmosphere is unsettled and rehearsing for the arrival of winter.

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