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High winds bring down power lines

Sun., March 15, 2009, 6:18 p.m.

High winds whipped through the area Sunday, leaving downed power lines behind. As many as 11,000 Avista customers had service disrupted.

cklWinds damaged a transmission line in Spokane about a mile east of a substation located on southbound Highway 195 near the I-90 interchange about 5:30 p.m., Avista spokeswoman Jessie Wuerst said in a news release.

Power was restored to a third of the customers within 5 minutes.

A bulk of the affected customers, 6,726, was on the South Hill. Power was restored to those neighborhoods by 6:30 p.m. after the utility switched power to back-up transmission lines, the news release said.

Another large chunk, 630, were in the North Central area. Shortly after 7 p.m., nearly 350 customers lost power in Sandpoint and another 300 in Pullman. As of 10 p.m., about 1,000 customers still didn’t have power.

Smaller outages were reported in Othello, Davenport, Colville, Chewelah, the West Plains and Coeur d’Alene/Hayden.

Customers who lose power are urged to call Avista’s outage line, at (800) 227-9187. Wuerst said it’s helpful to have those direct reports from customers.

Elsewhere on the weather front, a mixture of rain and snow is on the horizon – or maybe more accurately, over the western horizon – for the next several days.

A series of systems moving off the Pacific and into the Northwest is expected to produce temperatures and precipitation similar to Sunday for about four more days, Greg Koch of the National Weather Service said. But the approaching systems don’t look as powerful as the one that brought snow and rain, along with 45 mph winds, to the Spokane area on Sunday.

“They’re lined up, pretty much one after another,” Koch said.

Temperatures will likely be lower than average through Wednesday, but should get around that average mark of 48 degrees by the end of the week. Friday could be warmer and dryer, with some sunshine.

Rain could return on Saturday.

The rain is falling as snow in the mountains and that’s helping the snow pack, which is below normal despite the storms in December, Koch said. Right now, the snow pack in the Spokane Basin is at 81 percent of normal, the North Idaho Panhandle is at 79 percent and the Upper Columbia Basin is at 64 percent.

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