Nearly 60 crews of Avista employees have worked to restore power to more than 30,000 homes since Tuesday night’s surprise wintry storm, but about 985 customers were still waiting for electricity as of Thursday at 6 p.m.
The storm, which downed trees and broke numerous branches, inflicted most of its damage on power lines to individual homes, making the restoration process longer and more laborious, according to Avista. Both linesmen and vegetation management crews were deployed after the storm.
The majority of the remaining 220 power outages Thursday afternoon were concentrated in the South Hill area, according to Avista’s outage map. There were about four customers to be restored for each of those outages, according to Avista.
In comparison, a thunderstorm at the end of July knocked out power for more than 21,000 customers as lightning and downed tree limbs damaged equipment. About 1,300 homes did not have power the evening after the storm.
The wind storm of November 2015, which killed two people, destroyed poles, wiring and transformers, resulted in outages for 180,000 Avista customers at the height of the storm. Many people did not have power for more than a week.
That storm cost Avista almost $26 million, and the utility developed a software program to track supplies and needs.
“We want to thank our customers for their patience as we’ve worked to restore power to all customers who lost power this week as a result of this unusual storm,” Dennis Vermillion, Avista president and CEO, said in a news release. “We understand living without power during cold weather can be difficult. We continue to dedicate all available resources to restore the remaining customers.”
The temperature in Spokane dipped to a low of 25 degrees around 6 a.m. Thursday morning, according the National Weather Service.
Avista projected that most homes would have power restored by midnight Thursday.
The low temperature was projected to be about 27 degrees overnight, according to NWS.
Avista said customers such as schools and hospitals have had power restored and that crews are progressing through distribution power lines to focus on lines to individual homes.
People also reported more than 150 locations of trees or limbs in the street to the city of Spokane by Wednesday afternoon, according to a news release. The city said about one-third of those sites were cleared by Thursday evening and cleanup efforts will continue into next week.
Spokane police reported that numerous streets were blocked by branches and that many traffic lights were out in the early morning hours Wednesday.
In some cases crews had to move debris to the sides of roads to open up blocked streets, and they were going back to remove the debris Thursday.
Nearly 225 people brought more than 63 tons of debris to the Waste to Energy Facility for free disposal Wednesday, according to the city.
The Spokane Fire Department received 120 calls as the storm began to bring down branches, and firefighters responded to several fires sparked by downed power lines, according to Spokane Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer. Power was out all along the Division-Ruby corridor at one point, he said.
The Corbin Art Center will be closed Friday because of downed tree limbs and Esmeralda Golf Course will reopen Saturday after tree cleanup.
Ongoing closures at the Creek at Qualchan and Downriver golf courses will be re-evaluated Friday
Avista suggests turning off all appliances that were on before the power was out and unplugging electronics. People can report downed power lines and outages to the utility at (800) 227-9187.
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