Heavy snowfall on the region’s mountain passes causes difficult driving conditions; strong winds cause power outages

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Heavy snowfall and strong gusts on Saturday in parts of northern Idaho and northeastern Washington resulted in dangerous driving conditions and power outages for hundreds of Avista Utilities customers.

There have been several tractor-trailers and crashes on Lookout Pass in northern Idaho, according to the Twitter account of the Idaho State Police in northern Idaho. He said the eastbound lanes were completely blocked at around 11:30 a.m. Saturday.

The Idaho Department of Transportation reported an expected 20-minute delay on Eastbound Interstate 90, 3 miles east of Mullan, around 5 p.m. Saturday.

A winter storm warning is in effect for Lookout Pass until 10 a.m. Sunday and for Stevens Pass in Washington until 4 a.m. Sunday. The warning calls for heavy snowfall and wind gusts of up to 45 mph.

Snow will continue to fall on the passes today, which could make driving conditions difficult, according to the National Weather Service.

Rocco Pelatti, a meteorologist with the Spokane National Weather Service, said a trail of snow fell at Spokane International Airport on Saturday, but melted quickly.

From early Saturday morning until about 3 p.m. Pelatti said 2 inches of snow fell just north of Sandpoint and 5½ inches was recorded about 15 miles northeast of the northern Idaho city. Four inches fell in Spirit Lake, Idaho, and 2½ inches fell 3 miles south of Diamond Lake, Wash., Pelatti said.

Meanwhile, strong winds cut power to several hundred Avista Utilities customers in the region. But only 109 Avista customers were without power in the Spokane and Coeur d’Alene area around 6:30 p.m. Saturday.

Pelatti said winds of 54 mph were recorded shortly before 5 a.m. on Saturday at Spokane International Airport.

There is a 30% chance of rain and snow before 4 p.m. Sunday in Spokane, according to the National Weather Service. Further snow accumulation of less than half an inch is possible.

Forecasters forecast a 20% chance of snow Sunday evening and 40% chance of snow by early afternoon on Monday, with rain likely after that.

Highs will be around 40 Sunday and Monday before dropping into 30 Tuesday and Wednesday. The lows are expected to be in the upper 20s on Sunday and Monday, followed by the 21 on Tuesday.

There is a slight chance of snow Tuesday through Friday and a 40% chance Friday night and Saturday, the National Weather Service said.

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