Snow returns to Inland NW forecast

Stage 2 burning ban snuffs nearly all fires in Spokane area

January 22, 2013 10:47 a.m. - Updated: 3:56 p.m.

The stagnant, foggy air hovering over the Inland Northwest is going to give way to a new round of snow late Wednesday into Thursday morning, forecasters said.

One to 3 inches of snow are possible in Spokane, Coeur d’Alene and other lower elevation areas of Eastern Washington and North Idaho.

Three to 5 inches could fall near mountain areas of Northeast Washington and North Idaho.

An air stagnation advisory remains in effect for areas east of the Cascades through noon on Wednesday.

The Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency has banned all wood burning with the exception of homes that have waivers because wood burning is the main source of heat.

The stage-2 burning ban could be lifted once low pressure systems start to disperse the cold stagnant air being held down by high pressure.

In Stevens County, the state has banned use of uncertified wood stoves and fireplace inserts as well as all outdoor burning and forest slash burning in the stage-1 burning ban.

In North Idaho, the state is asking for residents to voluntarily curtail residential burning while all outdoor burning is banned.

This morning’s air quality in Spokane was 88, which is in the upper range of moderate pollution. Air quality was good in Coeur d’Alene and Sandpoint and moderately polluted in Pinehurst in Shoshone County.

Once the snow starts later Wednesday, driving could be difficult. A high of 33 is expected on Wednesday. The National Weather Service is warning drivers to be prepared for slippery conditions Wednesday evening and Thursday morning.

Spokane has seen 35.8 inches of snowfall so far this season, which is about 5 inches more than normal through Jan. 21.

Higher air pressure that brought a cold air inversion to much of the Pacific Northwest is breaking down with the approach of the Pacific storm system on Wednesday.

This morning’s atmospheric balloon recorded temperatures above freezing at elevations of 4,200 feet up to about 9,300 feet northwest of Spokane.

A series of storm impulses is expected by this weekend. The storms will erode the low-lying cold air and allow temperatures to rise in the middle 30s, raising the possibility of a mix of snow or rain over the weekend.

Burn ban
The Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency has banned nearly all wood burning in a stage-2 red alert until further notice. Air quality remained in the high moderate range this morning.
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