More than 12,000 homes in northwestern Montana lost power Thursday morning as the aftermath of a powerful winter storm continued to damage power grids.
A heavy snowfall on Wednesday caused trees, still with their leaves, to fall across power lines across the area, according to Flathead Electric Co-op spokesperson Courtney Stone. Stone said Lineman reported severe damage to the system, which caused a widespread power outage early Wednesday morning.
Thursday’s power outage affected parts of Kalispell and Evergreen, the northwest and east shores of Flathead Lake, Echo Lake, Blaine Lake, Montana 206, Farm to Market Road, the West Valley, and the west side of Whitefish and Happy Valley. rice field.
School closures have been announced in Fair-Mont-Egan, Helena Flats, Kila, Marion, Olney-Bissell, Smith Valley and West Valley districts.
The Flathead Electric Cooperative crew, along with mutual aid and contract crews, worked through the night to restore electricity to thousands of co-op members, Stone said.
“But Mother Nature continues to bring power lines down, causing minor blackouts,” Stone reported Thursday morning.
“We are experiencing an unbelievable number of small outages that take time and effort to repair. This is an overwhelming outage situation that will take time to resolve. Trees crack and branches fall when they are there.The crew realized that after repairing the power lines, more branches fell and the power lines went down again.”
Stone warned that some outages could last until Friday or the weekend. Check the stop map at outage.flathead.coop:8181 for the latest information.
Total snowfall on Wednesday varied from over 10 inches at Big Fork and 7 inches northwest of Kalispell to 3 inches at Columbia Falls and Marion and 4 inches at Polson. Whitefish areas were picked between 6 and 8 inches.
National Weather Service meteorologist Trent Smith said his office had received reports of widespread tree damage from across the region.
Kalispell saw the most severe tree damage in many of its historic neighborhoods.
The city’s parks and recreation department said crews were assessing cleanup areas on Thursday and removing fallen branches from trees on the city’s main streets.
A ministry official said the cleanup could take weeks due to the amount of debris.
“Please understand that our entire community has been affected by the recent winter weather and our branch,” the parks department posted on social media. Please wait.”
Kalispell’s Woodland Park was temporarily closed due to a power outage.
Another winter weather is targeting northwestern Montana Friday through the weekend while cleanup operations are underway.
Meteorologist Trent Smith said the downhill winds that accompany the storm mean that snowfall in the valleys isn’t all that great.
“It’s going to be a very active period,” Smith said of the next few days.
He warned that gusty winds could affect the area, especially over the weekend.
By Tuesday, the Arctic front will move into the area, bringing the coldest temperatures of the season. Lows near or below zero are possible.
“This is unusual for early November,” says Smith.