National News

Hundreds still in the dark after Northwest Montana windstorm

Posted October 18, 2017 3:51 p.m. EDT

— The Flathead Valley was hit hard by strong winds on Tuesday with thousands of residents losing power.

Strong winds caused large branches and trees to fall into power lines cutting with the outages stretching from Libby to Kalispell to Whitefish and all the way to Glacier National Park.

At one point over 100 outages occurred causing over 13,000 people to lose power.

The stoplights leading into Whitefish along U.S. Highway 93 were out for over an hour and police had to direct traffic. The power came back on in downtown Whitefish at around 6 p.m. But some residential areas remained in the dark.

One Whitefish family had the entire top of a tree crash into their backyard and miss their house by about five feet.

"Of course, we stock up on food so we could lose a couple hundred dollars' worth of food but that's all replaceable as long as we're all fine. but we are looking forward to having power back soon," Jamie Adams said.

The Flathead Electric Cooperative was reporting that over 1,100 customers were still without power as of Wednesday morning including approximately 300 people along U.S. Highway 2 near Glacier National Park.

The weather also fanned a wildfire on Blacktail Mountain in Lakeside that grew to between 40 and 50 acres according to the Somers Lakeside Fire Department.

Crews are still battling a 30-to-40 acre wildfire that's burning on private land near Foys Lake.

Glacier National Park was reporting on Wednesday afternoon the inside North Fork Road from Polebridge to Logging Creek is closed due to downed trees from the wind storms.

- information from Jack Ginsburg and Mark Thorsell included in this report.

(10.17.17 report)

High winds have caused power outages across Western Montana as crews work to respond to the damage.

High winds in the Flathead Valley have caused 128 power outages impacting over 6,805 customers, according to Flathead Electric Co-Op Outage viewer. Flathead customers can view outage information here.

In Plains there are also about 1,320 customers without power. Crews are responding but there is no word on the cause or when power will possibly be restored yet.

The Ravalli County Sheriff says his office has received reports of multiple lines down from Stevensville to Florence. Power is out From Victor to Florence. He is asking motorists to proceed with caution due to downed lines and intersections where traffic lights are out. Ravalli customers can view outage information here.

Northwestern Energy reports 950 customers are without power in the Stevensville area. Approximately 280 customers were in the dark in the Superior area. You can view info on power outages here.

The Flathead Electric Co-Op says residents should be prepared for the potential of power outages Tuesday evening due to high winds in the forecast.

The strongest winds Tuesday are predicted to occur between 3 and 7 p.m. and may cause tree and power line damage.

Flathead Electric Co-op spokesperson Wendy Ostrom-Price says the FEC anticipates experiencing scattered outages due to this storm in their service territory.

If outages occur, crews are prepared to remove trees and debris and restore power as quickly and safely as they can, but it is possible for some members to endure prolonged interruptions in service, depending on the extent of damages and the widespread nature of this weather event.

FEC is aware of most outages, but affected members should still call to report them at 406-751-4449. Ostrom-Price says the dispatch center is staffed 24/7 to assist with outages, although if they are experiencing a large volume of calls you may be directed to our automated outage system so they can assist you more quickly.

FEC would like to remind people to never touch or drive over a downed power line, but if you see one, report it to the Co-op right away. Also, please make sure the addresses on your homes and businesses are clearly visible to linemen and emergency responders.

You can view info on current outages in the Flathead here.

For information on outages in Missoula and other areas of Western Montana, click here.