Abundant snowfall on area mountain passes causes harsh driving conditions, strong winds lead to power outages

<p><p>Significant snowfall and strong gusts Saturday in portions of North Idaho and Northeast Washington led to hazardous driving conditions and power outages for hundreds of Avista Utilities customers.</p></p><p><p>There were multiple spun-out semitrucks and crashes on Lookout Pass in North Idaho, according to the Idaho State Police North Idaho Twitter account. It said eastbound lanes were completely blocked as of about 11:30 a.m. Saturday.</p></p><p><p>The Idaho Transportation Department reported a 20-minute expected delay on eastbound Interstate 90 3 miles east of Mullan as of about 5 p.m. Saturday.</p></p><p><p>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 snow and winds gusting as high as 45 mph.</p></p><p><p>Snow will continue to fall on the passes today, which could make driving conditions difficult, according to the National Weather Service.</p></p><p><p>Rocco Pelatti, meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Spokane, said a trace of snow fell at the Spokane International Airport Saturday, but it melted quickly.</p></p><p><p>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 North Idaho town. Four inches fell in Spirit Lake, Idaho, and 2½ inches fell 3 miles south of Diamond Lake, Washington, Pelatti said.</p></p><p><p>Meanwhile, high-powered winds knocked out power for several hundred Avista Utilities customers in the region. But only 109 Avista customers were without power in the Spokane and Coeur d’Alene area as of about 6:30 p.m. Saturday.</p></p><p><p>Pelatti said 54 mph winds were recorded shortly before 5 a.m. Saturday at the Spokane International Airport.</p></p><p><p>There’s a 30% chance of rain and snow before 4 p.m. Sunday in Spokane, according to the National Weather Service. New snow accumulation of less than a half inch is possible.</p></p><p><p>Forecasters are calling for a 20% chance of snow Sunday night and a 40% chance of snow before the early afternoon Monday with rain likely after that.</p></p><p><p>Highs will be around 40 Sunday and Monday before dropping into the 30s Tuesday and Wednesday. Lows are expected to be in the high 20s Sunday and Monday and then a low of 21 Tuesday.</p></p><p><p>There’s a slight chance of snow Tuesday through Friday and a 40% chance Friday night and Saturday, the National Weather Service said.</p></p>