Central Valley, Mead and Cheney cancel classes; Spokane Public Schools on 2-hour delay

<p><p>Most Spokane County school districts have delayed or canceled classes as a result of at least four inches of snow that fell overnight, with at least two more inches on the way to Spokane.</p></p><p><p>School districts in Spokane County that have canceled classes are Central Valley, Cheney, Deer Park, Freeman, Liberty, Mead, Medical Lake, Reardan-Edwall, Riverside, Tekoa and West Valley.</p></p><p><p>Districts in Spokane County that announced two-hour delays are Rosalia and Spokane.</p></p><p><p>East Valley School District announced a 90-minute delay.</p></p><p><p>Gonzaga Prep canceled in-person classes, but will operate online.</p></p><p><p>Nine Mile Falls School District said it will operate on a normal schedule on Thursday.</p></p><p><p><a href=”https://www.khq.com/schoolclosures/school-closings-and-delays-for-january-6th/article_aefaf392-6eeb-11ec-950b-1f222b44ea96.html” target=”_blank”>Here</a> is a more comprehensive list of school districts canceling or delaying school in the Inland Northwest on Thursday as a result of the weather.</p></p><p><p>Light snow was expected to fall throughout the morning Thursday, said Steve Bodnar, a meteorologist at Spokane’s National Weather Service Office at about 6:30 a.m. Another two to three inches “at least” were predicted in Spokane, with chances for rain or freezing rain by the late afternoon, he said. </p></p><p><p>“That will potentially create a few problems because you’ll see that snow turning into slush … I know from experience when it becomes slush I personally find it becomes harder to navigate than cold snow,” Bodnar said. </p></p><p><!–[photoset id=11678]–></p><p><p>Temperatures hovered early Thursday around 25 degrees and were expected to stay there until the afternoon, Bodnar said. By Thursday night Spokane was likely to sit at a freezing temperature, and then by Friday afternoon climb into the forties, he said. </p></p><p><p>Despite significant snowfall, the city of Spokane has not been forced to close down any roads or seen a significant number of vehicle crashes, according to city officials.</p></p><p><p>The challenge on city roads Thursday morning is not slickness as much as the sheer amount of snow.</p></p><p><p>“This is just deep snow that’s hard to get through, especially if you have a low-profile vehicle,” said city spokesperson Kirstin Davis.</p></p><p><p>City crews have been working around-the-clock since Wednesday, Davis said, when they began to treat city roads with de-icer and clear old snow to make room for Thursday’s storm.</p></p><p><p>The big question road crews have now is what the afternoon will bring.</p></p><p><p>It appears snow will at some point transition to rain, which could have varying impacts on city roads.</p></p><p><p>If the rain is heavy, it could melt and clear the snow on city roads. But if the rain is brief or insignificant, it could leave a mess that refreezes and creates new problems for road crews. Rain could also saturate the snow and make it heavier, and thereby increasing the amount of time it takes city plows to clear the road.</p></p><p><p>The focus thus far has been on plowing arterials and highly trafficked roads, including those around hospitals. It’s unclear when plowing will begin on residential streets, which largely depends on when the snow lets up.</p></p><p><p>“They’re on primary routes, and they’ll just continue doing those,” Davis said. “They get done with them and it’s basically time to start over again because of how much is coming down.”</p></p><p><p>Spokane Public Schools is opening two hours late. Having the roads clear of traffic this morning has been a benefit, Davis said, but it will not pose a significant operational challenge to have schools open later today.</p></p><p><p>The Spokane County Public Works Department said plows would keep primary arterials clear Thursday, according to an early morning news release. Crews planned to work into the evening to start plowing secondary roads. Crews expect to start plowing residential areas by the weekend, according to the news release.</p></p><p><p>Difficult road conditions were a factor in a few crashes early Thursday morning, said Trooper Ryan Senger with the Washington State Patrol. While there were a few slide-offs and vehicles blocking the roadway by 7 a.m. there weren’t a significant amount of collisions, he said.</p></p><p><p>“It’s slick,” Senger said. “I would say snow-covered in most places.”</p></p><p><p>Senger encourages people to stay home if possible.</p></p><p><p>“If you don’t have to go to work or you don’t have to be out on the roads, try not to be,” Senger said. “If you do have to go out, increase your following distance. Slow down for changing road conditions.”</p></p><p><p>Senger also reminded drivers to move over for crashed vehicles and cars on the shoulder of the road or in the ditch.</p></p><p><p>As snowfall created treacherous driving conditions in Spokane, many other areas were “getting hammered,” Bodnar said. </p></p><p><p>The major mountain passes across the Cascades in Washington, Snoqualmie, Stevens and White, were closed Thursday morning without estimated times for reopening. The weather service warned of avalanche danger across much of Washington.</p></p><p><p>As of 6 a.m. Thursday, Bodnar said Wenatchee reported 20 inches of snowfall. Leavenworth was at 22.5 inches, Methow Valley had 18 inches overnight and East Wenatchee reported 6 inches at midnight with the expectation it was likely much higher as of Thursday morning, he said. </p></p><p><p>Check the Washington state Department of Transportation website before making any long-distance travel, he said.</p></p><p><p>“They are seeing 2 inches every hour or so,” Bodnar said. “Expect winter driving conditions.”</p></p><p><p>Winds were expected to pick up starting Thursday afternoon, with local winds around 10 to 20 mph and then increasing Friday to 15 to 20 mph. Some gusts in the Palouse were expected to reach 50 mph, Bodnar said. </p></p><p><p>While Thursday’s snowfall was significant, it is unlikely to top the record for the day. The most snow ever received on a Jan. 6 in Spokane is 10.4 inches in 1950, Bodnar said.</p></p><p><p>Spokane this year has received about 7 inches more snow than normal, which is about 16 inches, Bodnar said. Between Dec. 1, 2020 and Jan. 6, 2021, 17.7 inches were reported. In that same period this year, Spokane had 23.2 inches of snowfall, he said. </p></p><p><p>“That’s pretty tough around here to do,” Bodnar said. </p></p><p><p>Inland Power and Light reported about 7 a.m. that more than 600 customers were without power, mostly in northeastern Spokane County and southwestern Bonner County. Avista Utilities reported nearly 200 customers without power, mostly near Sandoint. The Pend Oreille Public Utilities District reported 300 customers without power. Northern Lights in North Idaho reported 45 customers out in Idaho and western Montana.</p></p>