Snowstorm smothers Intermountain region

Thursday , January 19, 2012 - 11:57 AM

Brad W. Gary

While some braved the fender bender-plagued streets to get home early from work or school Wednesday, Marcus Swearingen went sledding.

"It's not often you get 8-9 inches in a day, especially in Lewiston," said the Lewiston, Idahoman, joined by dozens of others at the makeshift sledding hill on Bryden Canyon Golf Course.

Many areaschools that didn't opt for snow days had closed by Wednesday afternoon, prompting pickup trucks piled with snow hounds to fill the snow-covered fairways.

"It's getting better and better the more it gets packed down," Swearingen said.

The National Weather Service had tallied 7 inches of snow for the 24-hour period that ended at 10 a.m. Wednesday. Meteorologist John Livingston said the accumulation ranked as the eighth-highest in the more than a century such records have been kept.

Those flakes are expected to turn into valley rain today, with the snow level rising to about 3,100 feet, and up to 4,000 feet Friday. Valley rain will mean snow for much of the rest of the region in the coming days. Some area schools, including the University of Idaho, Washington State University and Lewis-Clark State College, already planned to close today because of the continued hazardous weather.

A winter storm warning remains in effect for much of the region until 4 p.m. today. Residents might expect additional snow in higher elevations, according to the National Weather Service, with temperatures today forecast to reach 41 degrees in Lewiston and 33 degrees in Pullman. A wintry mix is expected on the Camas Prairie, where the thermometer is expected to reach 35 degrees.

The weather service is warning the heavy snow will make driving hazardous or impossible throughout north central Idaho and southeastern Washington.



"Travel conditions are going to be difficult going out of the valley for the foreseeable future," Livingston said. "But you should be turning to rain there in the valley tomorrow."

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