Snowfall aftermath puts ICLP crews on outages in Idaho County

A short-lived snowfall last week, but heavily laden with moisture, resulted in power outages, and minor rock and landslides across Idaho County. Despite increased activity, no injuries or road closures are being reported at this time.

Adam Rush with ITD’s office of communication said on Monday, March 13, there were no road closures. He added they have been monitoring weather and travel conditions, and will continue to do so throughout this week.

Despite a lack of official closures, residents in the Elk City area are reporting activity along State Highway 14, the site of last year’s slide located 10 miles west of town. Reduced speed signs also have reported to have been erected. Rush could not be reached again to confirm this information.

Multiple reports of roadway debris and slides were reported last week, with most calls being received Thursday, March 9. Most activity was reported along U.S. Highway 12 in the Kooskia area.

Along SH 14, one caller reported a boulder in the road at milepost 15.5 on March 8 and a rockslide at milepost 12 the same day. Three callers reported rocks in the road on U.S. Highway 95 between March 8 and 10. Two reports of trees and rocks in the roadway came in for both highways 13 and 162 during the same time frame. And U.S. 12 had the highest number of reports with six calls; including trees and boulders in the road, a mudslide and a rockslide.

For Max Beach, general manager for Idaho County Light and Power Cooperative, his hope was it will be a “quiet next couple of days,” following several long ones that preceded where crews were linemen were repairing damaged services.

Overall, 1,051 customers were affected in widespread outages in multiple locations from Clearwater to Kamiah and up the Selway, which started around 9 p.m. last Wednesday, March 8, with the last customers restored by 6 p.m. Saturday, March 11. At the peak of the outage, 900 customers total were out of power.

“A wet, heavy snow came in, “Beach said. “In some places, we had a build-up on lines up to two inches in diameter.” Once it began to rain, lines began to sag or break, and trees would collapse onto and through power lines.

At their peak, ICLP had 13 linemen working outages. To assist, four linemen from Clearwater Power in Lewiston were brought in.

Crews will typically work 16 to 18 hours depending on conditions and then come in for eight hours of rest before heading back out again, according to Beach. 

“We don’t want to push anyone beyond a safe working time,” he said.

And while recent activity was brought on by heavy moisture, we shouldn’t expect much relief in the near future. The forecast calls for periods of rain and snow through Saturday, March 18, according to the National Weather Service.

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