From staff reports
The first major snow event of the season wreaked havoc on Spokane-area roadways Friday.
The Spokane International Airport recorded 3.3 inches of snow from 4 p.m. Thursday to 4 p.m. Friday, said Laurie Nisbet, meteorologist at the National Weather Service Spokane. Nisbet said around 4 inches of snow were reported in different parts of Spokane, and 5 inches fell in southern Spokane County towns, like Latah and Mt. Hope.
Washington State Patrol Sgt. Greg Riddell said troopers were responding to 13 calls at 2:30 p.m., including five crashes. The rest, he said, were cars that were stuck. Between 5 a.m. and 2 p.m., WSP responded to 21 collisions in metro Spokane, but only one resulted in injuries.
“We’re anticipating a busy night,” Riddell said.
He warned drivers to slow down and increase the distance between them and other vehicles.
A crash 2 miles north of Colville resulted in the death of 68-year-old Steven Fann, of Kettle Falls, Washington, a state patrol news release said. It said Fann was headed north on U.S. Highway 395 around 3 p.m. when the 2002 Ford Ranger he was driving went off the road and struck a tree.
Fann, who was not wearing a seat belt, died at the scene. WSP said Fann was driving too fast for the conditions.
Meanwhile, the Spokane Police Department recorded more than 85 collisions from 6 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and anticipated more with the commute home around 5 p.m.
Spokane police spokesperson Julie Humphreys said the hardest-hit area was the lower South Hill, causing police to barricade some roads such as Freya, Lincoln and Bernard to prevent more slide-offs and crashes.
She said a car slid down a hill and hit a pedestrian earlier Friday. The fire truck that responded to the incident was then hit by another car sliding down the same road.
Several city vehicles and one school bus were also involved in crashes.
“We have officers working nonstop everywhere,” Humphreys said.
Crews were treating I-90 through downtown Spokane, but police urged residents to stay home if possible, and only call law enforcement if there are injuries or road blockages.
The flurry of overnight snow left roads icy and slick elsewhere in Washington Friday, leading to a spin-out of 30 semitrucks on Snoqualmie Pass.
According to the Washington Department of Transportation, the trucks were not chained. Eastbound Interstate 90 was closed at milepost 34, east of North Bend, to clear the trucks. It was reopened more than an hour later.
Over a foot of snow was still expected on the pass, the transportation department said in a social media post.
Traction tires are required if traveling over the I-90 pass.
Transportation crews near Sprague were busy clearing snow from the highways and roadways since 3 a.m. Friday. The transportation department said because more snow is expected, make sure to give crews plenty of space to work.
Nisbet said snow should continue to fall Saturday morning, before it turns into a rain-and-snow mix or rain by the afternoon.