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Standing water & ice: Inland Northwest drivers face challenging commute

Freezing rain fell on top of snow in the Spokane area leaving some roads covered in a sheet of ice, while melting has caused standing water in other spots.

SPOKANE, Wash. — Spokane drivers should prepare for a tough go on Friday, though the conditions could vary drastically from your neighborhood to the highways.

Freezing rain fell on several inches of snow and the result is that many neighborhood roads now resemble ice rinks. So, for many drivers, the biggest challenge may be getting to a main road.

On the highways and major arterials, the problem is standing water due to melting snow and more rain overnight. The Washington State Department of Transportation reported standing water on I-90, US 395, and US 195.

WSDOT said it has crews out working to clear drains and asked drivers to give them space to do the work.

Hydroplaning is also a concern in areas where the snow melted leaving standing water.

School closings and delays

Dozens of school districts have already made the decision to close or delay the start because of the snow and ice.

Schools that are closed include Coeur d'Alene, Post Falls Moses Lake School District, Kellogg School District, and Moscow School District.

Spokane Public Schools, Central Valley School District, and Mead School District are all delayed two hours. 

Click here for the full list of school closings and delays

Several areas announced an all-city plow following the snow that fell on Thursday, including the City of Spokane, Spokane Valley, and Spokane County. All of them will focus first on arterials before moving into any neighborhoods.

Spokane plow map

Spokane Valley plow map

Spokane County plow map

Power outages

Tens of thousands of people in the Inland Northwest were without power on Friday morning.

Inland Power and Light is the hardest hit with more than 44-thousand customers in the dark as of 6 am on Friday. Most of their outages are reported north and east of Spokane.

Avista had more than one-thousand customers without power, with outages mostly scattered throughout Idaho.

Pend Oreille PUD reported more than 9-thousand customers without power.

Inland power outage map

Avista power outage map

Pend Oreille PUD power outage map

KREM 2 Friday forecast

Many parts of the Inland Northwest picked up the most significant snow so far this season. The significant snow arrived along a warm front. The front will warm things enough that snow is now rain on Friday. The warmup comes from a push of southwesterly wind.  

Wind gusts will be strong enough at times that a wind advisory is in place throughout the day for much of the Inland Northwest. Wind gusts will top out near 55 miles per hour for much of the region.

The big story is what is to come. As wind dies down Friday night, skies will clear and temperatures will drop. Even low elevation areas will drop into the 20s. That means every place that has slush and standing water will freeze heading into the weekend.

Washington Passes Closed

The Washington Department of Transportation estimates mountain passes could be closed until Sunday. The closures include Snoqualmie, Stevens, White and Blewett passes.

WSDOT said conditions were too dangerous for crews Thursday night to be in the pass areas. Workers have reported snow, trees and other debris sliding onto highways.  

WSDOT said crews plan to spend Friday addressing avalanche issues to create work zones if conditions are safe enough.

Once that avalanche work is complete, crews will spend Saturday clearing the passes by plowing and treating roads, removing trees and wiping ice from road signs.  

Spokane COVID testing site closed

The COVID-19 testing site at Spokane Falls Community College closed on Thursday after snow damaged one of the structures. It will remain closed through Friday. 

People who had appointments for COVID-19 testing at SFCC on Thursday and Friday are being notified of the site closure by email or phone call.  

The staff that works on the site will be moving to the testing site at Spokane County Fair & Expo Center to help with the increased volume that is expected at that location.

Due to the extra testing at the Fair site today, it will only be able to test people who have appointments. All appointments for today have already been filled, and no drive-up testing will be available. 

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