Sandpoint braces for weekend’s snow storms

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(File photo/courtesy) Sandpoint crews are preparing for a winter storm, set to begin today, that could bring anywhere from 14-30 inches of snow by the end of the weekend.

SANDPOINT — By the time Sunday is over, the National Weather Service is predicting the Sandpoint area could receive anywhere from 14 to 30 inches of snow.

“Thus far, the winter of 2019-20 has been a fairly mild one,” NWS forecasters said in a Thursday blog post. “In fact since mid-November this has been the mildest winter since 2003 and previous to that the 1967.”

But that, they said, is about to change and in a big way.

A growing disturbance over the Gulf of Alaska is rapidly approaching the Pacific Northwest — and bringing a lot of snow to the area between today and Saturday, the weather service said in the post.

“The precipitation is expected to be light at the beginning of the event, but then should become moderate to heavy at times in the afternoon as the low gains strength,” the post reads.

However, that won’t be the end of the white stuff. As soon as the one storm leaves the area, NWS officials said in the blog post that another is expected to appear right on its heels.

Predictions call for the Sandpoint area to get at least 4 to 6 inches of snow in the first storm with 8 to 12 inches of snow possible. What is different about the second storm is that it is less likely to be accompanied by warm air, which means the precipitation is more likely to come as snow instead of rain.

“Also this low will be a little deeper (and stronger) and thus there will be a greater potential for more intense snowfall rates and stronger winds,” NWS officials said in the post.

It’s highly likely, forecasters said in the post that the Sandpoint area could receive another 8-12 inches of snow Sunday, NWS officials said.

To handle the expected storms, Sandpoint officials are preparing for what is expected to be a heavy snow event.

Light snow will begin in the morning hours on Friday with the potential for heavy snow beginning at noon and into Sunday, City Administrator Jennifer Stapleton said in a press release. “By the end of weekend, total snow accumulations of 14 to 30 inches are possible. Travel could be very difficult to impossible is some areas and blowing snow could significantly reduce visibility.”

City crews will be working around the clock to provide snow removal services, Stapleton said.

Last year, the Sandpoint City Council adopted a snow policy providing that streets with higher intensity use have a higher priority for snow removal service. Residential streets require more time for snow removal for the amount of traffic served and have a lower priority. Operations are performed based upon prioritized routes. The city’s snow removal policy and priority map may be viewed at sandpointidaho.gov.

“During heavy snow fall events, all available resources are dedicated to ensuring Priority 1 streets are passable,” said Amanda Wilson, Infrastructure and Development Services Manager. “If the forecast proves to be accurate, conditions may require that crews stay on the higher priority streets continuously. That could mean it’s very possible residential streets may take several days to clear.”

City graders are equipped with snow gates to reduce the amount of snow plowed in front of driveways. The use of snow gates may be suspended during snow events in which the snow is greater or wetter than their use would be effective. Snow gates will not be used in front of vehicles, mailboxes, or trash containers, Wilson said.

Residents are required to park on the even side of the street until March 1, unless posted otherwise. Violators will be ticketed and/or towed. Winter maintenance is a shared responsibility between City crews, business owners and residents. Thanks for doing your part to help keep sidewalks, ADA ramps, mailboxes, and fire hydrants free of snow and ice.

Information: National Weather Service, http://bit.ly/2Fxgr27

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