Near-zero temps, icy roads, wind chill: Winter weather creeps into Spokane

<p><p>Plummeting temperatures in the Northwest prompted the city to send all-day plows out on icy roads and open a warming shelter to prepare for a frosty week. </p></p><p><p>Most areas around Spokane are not expected to warm above 20 to 25 degrees this week, according to a news briefing from Spokane’s National Weather Service office.</p></p><p><p>“We can still have these dangerous pockets of snow and gusty winds, which will drastically reduce visibility to almost zero,” said Ken Daniel, meteorologist at Spokane’s National Weather Service office.</p></p><p><p>Wednesday was predicted to only reach 11 degrees, with a low of minus 1 possible.</p></p><p><!–[photoset id=11660]–></p><p><p>Temperatures this low can heighten the risk of frostbite and hypothermia, the weather service wrote.</p></p><p><p>The Spokane Convention Center opened to the public on Sunday as a 24-hour temporary warming center and will remain open until at least Jan. 2 for those seeking shelter from the cold. An all-day soup kitchen is providing hot meals. Donations of socks, hand warmers and nonperishable food are encouraged to be sent to 527 S. Cannon St.</p></p><p><p>The center has room for about 150 people, said Guardians Foundation founder Michael Shaw in an interview Sunday. Guardians Foundation was contracted by the city to open the center.</p></p><p><p>Though snow was not likely to stick before Thursday, hazardous winter driving conditions were expected to continue this week from a possible combination of ice and light snow, Daniel said.</p></p><p><p>Drivers in Spokane faced icy roads Monday morning as the city’s plows began a 24-hour schedule to manage the roads, said Marlene Feist, Spokane’s city public works director.</p></p><p><p>Spokane’s snow plows prioritize arterials, hills and bridges first, Feist said.</p></p><p><p>“Hills are particularly important – and bridges. Obviously people need traction when they’re going up and down on a hill to maintain control,” Feist said. “On a day like today, they’re focusing on arterials because those are where the most cars are, usually near residential areas.”</p></p><p><p>Feist said the public works department constantly monitors the roads to determine its route. Arterials with heavy traffic are usually plowed first, like the Division and Ruby couplet , as well as South Lincoln, North Post and Monroe streets, she said.</p></p><p><p>When below-freezing cold hits, plows switch from using liquid deicer to sand on the roads, Feist said.</p></p><p><p>“Liquid isn’t as effective with these temperatures,” Feist said.</p></p><p><p>Feist said anyone driving behind a plow should give them at least 50 feet to work and to not pass a city plow on the road. She said residents should consider off-street parking to give plows room on narrower residential roads and can help neighbors by helping shovel snow from sidewalks.</p></p>