March 30, 2010 in City

Wind generates problems

Area socked with gusts that down power lines
By The Spokesman-Review

Spokane firefighters rope off the intersection of Deska Drive and Assembly Road just off Sunset Hill on Monday. A brief but strong storm system caused power outages and damage throughout the Spokane region.
(Full-size photo)

By the numbers

44 Peak gust (in mph) at Spokane International Airport

1,000 Kootenai Electric Cooperative customers without service

1,200 Avista Utilities customers without service

430 Inland Power & Light Co. customers without service

At least 2,800 Inland Northwest electrical customers had power interrupted on Monday in the biggest windstorm to hit the region in a year.

Outages from downed power lines occurred across Spokane, Coeur d’Alene, Post Falls, Davenport, Chewelah, Sandpoint, Hayden Lake and northern Kootenai County.

Power was restored fairly quickly, one utility spokeswoman said.

Kootenai Electric Cooperative had 1,000 customers out of service Monday afternoon.

Avista Utilities had at least 1,200 without power.

Inland Power & Light Co. reported that power was cut to 430 customers near Reflection Lake in north Spokane County.

“That was some big wind,” said Catherine Cronin, spokeswoman for Inland Power.

Utility officials warned residents to stay away from downed lines that might be carrying live current.

The winds peaked during the noon hour Monday with the highest gust occurring at Fairchild Air Force Base at 54 mph. Deer Park, Felts Field and Coeur d’Alene had gusts to 49 mph.

Spokane International Airport had a peak gust of 44 mph. The airport had a 46 mph wind gust in January.

The last time the region saw winds above 50 mph was in March 2009.

Tree limbs littered streets on the South Side of Spokane by early afternoon, and a pair of trees blew down in the Indian Canyon area on the west side of the city.

Behind the front, a deep trough of lower air pressure is moving toward the Inland Northwest from the eastern Pacific Ocean with below-normal temperatures in the upper 40s expected today and Wednesday.

The leading edge of the low on Sunday brought 0.65 inches of rain to Spokane by Monday afternoon. Rainfall across Eastern Washington ranged from a quarter inch to three-quarters of an inch.

Up to a foot of new snow was expected in the Cascades and as much as 8 inches in the mountains of northeast Washington and North Idaho by Wednesday.

That may help a lean snowpack that has been running about half of normal this month for the Spokane River basin.

Compact snow and ice was reported at Sherman Pass west of Kettle Falls on Monday.

The unsettled weather should continue through the week with the chance of rain showers at 70 percent today and 60 percent tonight. Showers should continue on Wednesday with a slight risk of showers Thursday before another low moves toward the region Friday.

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