SPOKANE, Wash — A snowstorm in October isn't a common occurrence for Spokane, but it does happen.
In 2019, a record-breaking four inches of snow fell at the Spokane International Airport from Oct. 8-9. The previous daily maximum snowfall record was a trace amount on Oct. 8, 1981.
The first major snowstorm of this season has arrived in the Inland Northwest on Friday, Oct. 23. It has the potential to cause tree damage and widespread power outages.
Areas in Spokane that are below 2,000 feet, including downtown, can expect one to two inches of snow by Saturday morning. Higher elevations can expect anywhere from 3-6 inches.
That means the amount of snow that falls on Friday could be the same as or close to totals during the October 2019 snowstorm.
Wet, heavy snow fell on trees that had not yet dropped all of their leaves during the 2019 storm, causing tree branches to break off and fall into roads. Some trees branches also fell on power lines, leaving tens of thousands of people in Spokane County and North Idaho without power.
Some residents reported trees that had fallen on their homes and others left roads impassable. Most of the damage was concentrated on Spokane's South Hill.
Tree damage and power outages are also possible during Friday's snowstorm, mainly in populated areas with a high density of deciduous trees, according to meteorologists with the National Weather Service.
Meteorologists say this is not a "high-confidence situation" but there is potential for this to happen. Gusty winds in the forecast on Saturday could also lead to power outages around the Inland Northwest.
There are steps homeowners can taken to less damage to their trees. Angel Spell, an arborist with the City of Spokane, said it is helpful to shake some of the snow from their branches.
Though the larger trees may be harder to clear, brushing some snow from them could prevent property damage and help keep the trees healthy, Spell said.
The City of Spokane's Street Department is prepared to use deicer and even plow depending on snow totals, according to spokesperson Marlene Feist.
The Street Department will remove trees and large branches that fall into the public right-of-way, Feist said. Citizens can report trees blocking the street by calling 311.
Trees that are down and entangled with power lines need to be addressed by Avista first. People should call their toll-free line at 800-227-9187 and say yes to the question, "Are you reporting an urgent issue?"
If the downed power line poses an emergency to the caller or someone else, people are asked to call 911. No one should approach downed power lines.