Expect strong winds in the valleys and heavy snowfall on certain mountain passes early next week in the Inland Northwest.
Wind speeds will range from 30 to 40 mph Monday in downtown Spokane and North Idaho. Meanwhile, 45- to 55-mph gusts are expected in more exposed areas like the West Plains, South Hill, Columbia Basin and Palouse, said Steven Van Horn, meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Spokane.
NWS meteorologist Laurie Nisbet said while a low-pressure system typically weakens as it moves east and encounters mountains, this system will strengthen as it moves inland across southern Canada.
“That’s a big indicator to us to start looking at winds and potential strong gusty winds across our region,” Nisbet said.
As farmers are tilling soil and preparing fields for spring planting, the winds could blow the loose dirt around and create dusty conditions, Nisbet said. She said the Waterville Plateau and the western Columbia Basin – like Douglas, Grant and Adams counties – could be the most prominent areas for blowing dust.
Power outages, tree damage and unsecured items getting blown about are always possible with strong winds. Strong crosswinds could also create issues for tall vehicles, she said.
Meanwhile, the Cascade Range will receive a “hefty amount of snow,” especially for this late in the year, Van Horn said.
Forecasters are calling for 18 to 30 inches of new snow at Stevens Pass and 12 to 24 inches at Snoqualmie Pass from Sunday night to Tuesday morning. Lookout Pass in Idaho is expected to receive 6 to 10 inches early Monday morning and into Tuesday, Van Horn said.
“It is spring, but it’s not uncommon, I would say, to still see snow over the passes well into April,” Nisbet said.
Van Horn said the snow could impact drivers and lead to tree damage and power outages in the Cascades. Upwards of 40-mph winds are expected in the Cascades, which could blow snow around and impact visibility. Snow drifts are also possible, especially Monday afternoon and evening, Van Horn said.
Lookout Pass winds are expected to range from 30 to 35 mph Monday night.
As for Spokane, there’s a 30% chance of rain showers Saturday morning, as well as rain and thunderstorms in the afternoon, according to the NWS website.
Sunday will be mostly cloudy, while rain is almost certain to sweep in Monday. The rest of the week is expected to be free of precipitation.
Temperatures are expected to reach the 50s this weekend and early next week before climbing to around 64 degrees Thursday, the NWS website said.
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