August 12, 2014 in City, Idaho

Blowing dust ushers in thunderstorms

Thousands left without power
By The Spokesman-Review
 

Blowing dust that washed across Spokane after 6 p.m. gave way to rain, high winds and lightning as severe thunderstorms raked Eastern Washington and North Idaho on Tuesday night.

A line of storms moved northward across the region, from the eastern slopes of the Cascades into Idaho.

A brush fire destroyed three outbuildings and damaged a house near Mt. Spokane Park Drive and Peone Road, said Guy Gifford of the Department of Natural Resources. Peone Road is closed in the area. Two other brush fires were reported in the same area.

A line of storms is moving northward across the region, from the eastern slopes of the Cascades into Idaho.

Spokane International Airport was reporting gusts at 30 mph just before 7 p.m., well short of the gusts that measured above 60 mph on July 23.

The National Weather Service said the line of strong thunderstorms could produce wind gusts to 60 mph, but so far the storms have not been that severe. This evening’s storm follows strong storms that wreaked havoc in some parts of the region on July 23 and Aug. 2.

The Washington State Patrol is reporting zero visibility in some areas and numerous accidents in Whitman and Adams counties due to blowing dust. The accidents include a three car, two semi truck crash on I-90 about 21 miles west of Ritzville, a two semi truck crash on State Route 26 in the town of Dusty and a two car crash on Highway 395 about 26 miles south of Ritzville.

Eastbound I-90 is down to one lane west of Ritzville for the multiple car and semi-truck accident.

The Grant County Sheriff’s Office ordered the evacuation of the Grant County Fairgrounds at 4:15 p.m. Nearly 8,000 people were there for the County Fair. Events scheduled for this evening, including a concert, have been cancelled.

A severe thunderstorm warning was extended to most of Spokane County. It has now expired in Spokane as well as parts of the central Columbia Basin and the Palouse where the strongest storms have continued to the north.

A severe thunderstorm watch was posted at 5:16 p.m. for Spokane, Coeur d’Alene and surrounding areas through 8 p.m.

As the storms passed through Pullman about 5:15 p.m., the airport there recorded wind gusts to 38 mph and recorded about 0.2 inches of rain, but conditions calmed down by 5:30 p.m.

Avista Utilities reported nearly 10,000 customers without power in Spokane, Spokane Valley, Othello, the Palouse and Grangeville at the height of the storm. Inland Power and Light was reporting just over 3,700 without power as of 8:30 p.m.

In addition, a red flag warning for severe fire danger is in effect across the region.

Nina Culver contributed to this report.


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