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National Weather Service: Season’s first big winter storm expected this week

otx snow.jpg
National Weather Service, Spokane
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Forecast snow amounts in the Inland Northwest from Tuesday evening to Thursday morning. These totals will be updated as forecasts become further refined.

The last day of November will bring winter’s first big snowstorm to the Inland Northwest, weather forecasters said Monday.

In a media briefing, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Spokane office said heavy snow and gusty winds will arrive in the region in the very early hours of Wednesday morning, blanketing northeastern Washington and north Idaho.

Warning Coordination Meteorologist Andy Brown said current forecasts call for eight to 12 inches of snow in Spokane, Davenport, Omak, and Coeur d’Alene between Tuesday evening and Thursday morning. Bonner’s Ferry could see six to eight inches, and Sandpoint could see a foot or more.

Computer models have not completely agreed on where the heaviest snow will fall. One model places the axis of heaviest accumulation in the northern tier of counties, from Ferry County to Bonner County. Another places that axis farther south, in the Spokane-Coeur d’Alene area.

“That is the challenge of the next 24 to 48 hours, before this snowfall starts, is narrowing down exactly where that heaviest snow band will develop,” Brown said. “A lot of the forecast is that potential. We have the potential here for a significant amount of snow, especially in the Spokane metro area.”

NWS Spokane said the storm would make travel very difficult, blowing snow would create visibility problems, and the weight of the snow could possibly bring down some trees.

Lingering snowfall is forecast to continue Thursday. Brown also noted that, with the exception of Wednesday, temperatures will be very cold.

“Most locations will be at freezing or below, so this snow is going stick around,” Brown said.

It’s hard to know how much of a role ice will play, Brown said. Most communities will see snow, and snow compacting on roads can form ice layers. No freezing rain is expected.

Brandon Hollingsworth is your All Things Considered host. He has served public radio audiences for fifteen years, primarily in reporting, hosting and interviewing. His previous ports-of-call were WUOT-FM in Knoxville, Tennessee, and Alabama Public Radio. His work has been heard nationally on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Here and Now and NPR’s top-of-the-hour newscasts.