What weather should I expect driving to Apple Cup?


by KING 5 News


Posted on December 1, 2010 at 10:56 PM

Updated Saturday, Dec 4 at 9:28 PM

SEATTLE -- It's that time of year when families and friends across Washington divide and decide -- Cougs or Dawgs?

However this year it seems the Apple Cup's dividing line will be drawn in the snow, and it will separate more than just Crimson and Gray vs. Purple and Gold or bowl-contender vs. rebuilding season -- it will separate those who can and cannot physically make it through severe weather to get to Martin Stadium.

Snow has blanketed Eastern Washington, Spokane, and the Palouse this month. So much snow has fallen, November 2010 is now the snowiest on record in Spokane, with 25 inches and counting.

In Pullman, snow is being cleared from the bleachers and field and hauled off to a remote part of the Washington State University campus. Across the Palouse, between 3 and 7 inches of snow fell on just Monday alone.

All week there have been countless slide-offs, fender-benders, and spin-offs on slushy Inland Northwest highways leading to and from Pullman. Blowing and drifting snow even closed SR 194 from the Snake River Dam to US 195. These aren't exactly driving conditions westsiders (or anyone for that matter) are fully comfortable with behind the wheel.

Oh, and don't forget navigating that snowy hurdle they call Snoqualmie Pass, where snow has trapped semi trucks all week on the side of Interstate 90.

According to KING 5 Chief Meteorologist Jeff Renner, Thursday will likely present the worst driving conditions across Snoqualmie Pass, with between 1-3 inches of snow forecasted to fall.

Friday's driving conditions across Snoqualmie will be a bit easier, with light snow forecasted to fall in the morning, but expected to taper off as the day goes on.

Snow showers will continue on and off across Eastern Washington and the Palouse through Friday evening. Drivers should prepare for winter driving conditions on all highways -- that means, compact snow, ice, slush, or bare and wet roadways.

The Washington Department of Transportation is closely watching the forecast just like every other football fan out there. Officials tell KING 5 News major highways to Pullman will be considered "priority routes," especially on US 195, SR 26 and SR 27.

WSDOT will likely have additional crews shift to the Palouse area over the weekend as needed to keep roads safe, sanded, salted and clear for drivers. 

WSDOT officials also advised drivers will see snow and below-freezing temperatures through Ellensburg and Vantage, on SR 24 near Hanford and on US 395 through Connell.

Come game time on Saturday, Renner says the chance of snow is slim, but the real problem will be the bone-chilling temperatures. Highs are only expected to be in the mid-20's, and low temperatures could dip into the teens.

With a 4:00 p.m. kickoff, that means Cougs and Huskies could be crossing that dividing line to huddle together for warmth in the stands or ask to borrow spare gloves (though we all know that's not likely).  

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