Inland Northwest bracing for major storm

Inland Northwest bracing for major storm

SPOKANE, Wash. - It's time to batten down the hatches and haul in the lawn furniture. The area's first major winter storm is on it's way and could bring heavy rain and damaging winds to the area.

The storm won't be as bad as the one that toppled trees and power lines last November, but Spokane could see up to an inch of rain starting Thursday night.

Early Friday morning, the winds start kicking up 25 to 30 miles per hour with gusts high as 60.

The rain, followed by the wind, could land a one-two punch to the trees in our area

Last November, we lost a lot of Ponderosa pines in Manito Park because of their shallow roots. We pamper the pines there by irrigating the park and the trees get fat and lazy instead of developing a deep root system. Now we're expecting a lot of rain and if the soil gets saturated before those winds arrive, those trees might not have a lot of terra firma to hold on to.

Arborists from Tall Tree Service are racing to thin out the Ponderosas. Cutting down the dead and diseased branches reduces the amount of sail the tree raises to the wind.

"Right now we're protecting her home by cleaning out all the debris and the dead," said Cameron Coy with Tall Tree Service. "That way, when the big winds do come, it doesn't put to much flex in the trees and helps the wind blow through it."

Even winds in the 25 to 30 mph range pose a threat to trees already damaged by last November's storm.

"The fact that trees still have leaves on them, it tells me that there is the potential with these winds, the saturated soil and the trees with leaves on them that there is the potential that we could knock some trees down from this event," said John Fox with the National Weather Service Spokane office.

Fox is especially concerned about the trees that burned during the Yale Road fire back in August. But Fox doesn't think we'll get so much rain that already traumatized residents have to worry about mudslides.

The approaching storm's biggest impact will be from the wind and if it just brings down fall's color or full on timber.

"If you have things that can get blown pretty easily, a trampoline or lawn furniture, put it away now while you can," said Fox. "Because we're pretty certain the winds are going to develop, there's no question about that. It's just a question of how damaging these winds will be and I want to stress this will not be as strong as the wind storm we saw in November, but it will be a fairly windy event."

So if you've already done some raking in your yard, I'm sorry to tell you there is some more raking in your future.

If you've procrastinated like me: good call! With this storm all your leaves could end up down the block in somebody else's yard.