Avista prepared for upcoming gusts

Avista prepared for upcoming gusts

SPOKANE, Wash. - The wind storm coming to the Inland Northwest late Thursday night and in the early hours of Friday morning may not be the magnitude of the 2015 windstorm, but they can still do some damage, including knocking out power.

Avista has been preparing for a few days now, having daily debriefing with the National Weather Service about this storm. One thing that is a concern is all of this rain; it is loosening up the soil, and increasing the chance of trees falling into power lines.

"You know we're never sure what mother nature is going to throw at us until it actually happens," said Debbie Simock of Avista Utilities.

Whatever mother nature throws at the Inland Northwest tomorrow, Avista says they are prepared. They have alerted crews it may be a long workday on Friday, and some workers are ready to be pulled from their day-to-day duties to help.

Wind gusts during last November's wind storm clocked in around 70 mph. On Friday, those gusts expected to top out around 50 mph.

"Our utility poles and equipment are designed to withstand winds of the level expected in this storm," Simock said.

However because the rain causes loose soil, Avista is preparing for the potential of falling trees.

"What can cause problems and outages are trees and branches falling into power lines or blowing into them or breaking off and falling into the lines so that's what we need to look out for," Simock said.

That was a problem during wind storm 2015 as well, but Avista says they do not expect damage to be as severe.

"The windstorm of 2015 was the largest storm that we had experienced in our company's 127 year history," said Simock.

The power company says they learned a lot from the event on what they can improve on when severe weather rolls in.

"Restoration and crisis communication plans and how that fits into the bigger restoration efforts so departments have been looking at that," Simock said.

On Thursday, the team at Avista stocked equipment, and loaded up trucks just in case they need to spring into action.

The Avista team also said everyone should be ready in case there are outages tomorrow: make sure you have your cell phone charged and a flashlight handy. If you do lose power you should report the outage to Avista. and if you see a downed power line the City asks that you call 911 to report it, and stay away.