North Idaho

Heavy snows hampering North Idaho power restoration efforts

Heavy snows hampering North Idaho power restoration efforts

POST FALLS, Idaho - Heavy snows just before the holiday weekend still have several hundred people hoping to have their power restored.

Right now Avista has nearly 15,000 customers without power and there are many more outages throughout North Idaho.

In Kootenai County it's not the depth of the snow but rather the weight of it as trees are getting so heavy with snow simply keeled over as the snow piled on.

Local utilities have dubbed it "The White Christmas" storm. Snow and ice started building up on tree branches and dropping them on phone and power lines. Eventually, trees began snapping in mid trunk robbing crews of quick and easy fixes.

"Well we've been out here since '61 and this is the wettest and heaviest snow I've ever remembered seeing," Post Falls resident Tom Hoag said.

The weighty problem prompted local utilities to call in some air support. Avista and Kootenai Electric took the unusual step of chartering helicopters that used their rotor wash to blast snow off transmission lines.

"And so it wasn't until Saturday that the weather cleared enough in North Idaho for us to get a helicopter up and get it flying close enough to those enough to those lines and those trees to actually blow it off the structures," Avista spokesperson Jesse Wurst said.

Fortunately our weather forecast may now actually helping our utilities and their customers as colder air will dry out the snow weighing down tree branches, as the last thing North Idaho needs right now is more precipitation.