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Arctic blast approaches

| November 18, 2010 8:00 PM

COEUR d'ALENE - It's coming.

The cold and the snow. The shovels and the studded tires. Better get the coats, the hats and the gloves out, too.

"We're going to have some wintry weather. It's still coming, slow but sure," said Coeur d'Alene climatologist Cliff Harris.

And he wants North Idaho's residents to be ready.

"It's going to hit them hard when it hits them," he said Wednesday.

While snow flurries are likely Friday and Saturday, it's the temperature that Harris said could pose problems for those caught unaware.

By Sunday, the highs should be in the 20s, a 20-degree drop from what the area has had lately.

"We haven't seen that since early March," he said.

But that's practically a heat wave compared to what's next: Lows in the single digits Tuesday.

"It's a major cold wave," Harris said, adding that this freeze will kill off any flowers still hanging on.

Once the cold spell arrives, so could snow. The relatively mild conditions with temperatures in the 40s has kept any snow at bay.

"We've been getting mainly rain down here," Harris said.

The ski resorts could see up to a foot of snow this weekend, and might be able to open for Thanksgiving. Snow levels should drop below the 2,500 foot mark.

"There's going to be quite a bit in the mountains, and we're finally going to get it down here," Harris said. "We just got a few flakes down here early in the morning that most people missed."

Harris predicted the area will see about 80 inches of snow this winter.

"We've got La Nina, which normally brings more snow but it's a mild La Nina," he said.

Again, Harris urged people to be ready for the frigid conditions on the way. Disconnect hoses from faucets. Have batteries for flashlights and candles, too. Don't leave the dog outside, either.

"Prepare for winter weather. It catches people unaware," he said. "It's coming. Colder air every day gets closer to us.

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