Power Outages, Accidents Accompany Latest Snowstorm

SPOKANE — With numerous traffic problems accompanying the latest snowstorm to sweep the Inland Northwest, the city of Spokane declared “Condition Red” Wednesday, meaning city crews will be plowing snow 24 hours a day, seven days a week until they can complete a full city plow, which includes removing snow from 967 miles of streets.

According to a City of Spokane press release issued Wednesday, “Currently, 35 pieces of equipment are on the streets-including 26 plows, three sanders, and six de-icers. Today, crews are focusing on snow emergency routes and major arterials.  Then, they will move to the secondary arterials, bus routes, and residential hills.”

They say they should reach residential streets by Friday, barring additional accumulations of snow.

The move was no doubt prompted by the numerous weather-related problems experienced overnight Tuesday and into Wednesday morning. Several slideoffs, crashes, power outages and other related problems accompanied the latest snowstorm to make its way through the Inland Northwest.

Multiple slideoffs were reported early Wednesday morning on both directions of I-90 and traffic was moving slowly, especially on westbound I-90 through Spokane and Spokane Valley, where traffic was creeping along at 8 a.m.

The Maple and Division on and off ramps in downtown Spokane were especially perilous. Some motorists were having trouble getting up the small hill at 2nd and Arthur and, as a result, traffic was backed up onto I-90 by 7:30 a.m.

Additionally, a snow plow went into the ditch on Maple and a car went into a building at 300 W. Hastings. A pair of semis also had trouble getting up Argonne heading northbound near Trent and were blocking part of the road there at 8 a.m.

The precipitation further caused a tree branch to buckle under the weight of the snow at Dean and Oak in North Spokane and that branch fell on a truck.

No injuries were reported in any of these accidents.

However, the dangerous roads proved fatal for a driver on Highway 291 Tuesday night, causing the highway to close down near Suncrest. The road reopened shortly after midnight however a pair of highways further south remained closed Wednesday morning.

Highways 194 and 272 in Whitman County were both shut down overnight Tuesday until they reopened early Wednesday afternoon.

There were numerous reports of slick roads both in town and out. A viewer reported that traffic on Market was creeping along during the morning commute while another motorist said Highway 395 was extremely slick and that she was driving approximately 35 mph heading to Spokane from Deer Park.

Additionally, power was out to a few thousand people in the Inland Northwest. By 7:30 a.m., Avista said power had returned to customers in Ponderosa who had experienced overnight outages and power was restored to half of the roughly 2,000 residents in Coeur d’Alene who lost electricity in the storm.

There were still scattered homes without power throughout Spokane, Spokane Valley, Deer Park and elsewhere, as of 8 a.m.

The power outage also knocked out street lights at several intersections in Spokane, including 3rd and Lincoln, 3rd and Maple, 4th and Walnut, Lyons and Division and several others. All were being treated as a four-way stop.

Several schools closed down amidst the perilous driving conditions. Schools delayed or closed Wednesday because of the weather include:

Deer Park Rosalia Medical Lake Oaksdale Plummer-Worley Tekoa St. Maries Colfax Coeur d’Alene Tribal School District (“School Plus” is Open however) Coeur d’Alene Christian School Potlatch Post Falls Steptoe Kootenai Joint School Lutheran Academy of the Master (Coeur d’Alene) Davenport North Idaho Christian School Lakeland Davenport Moscow Garfield/Palouse Reardan/Edwall Liberty Classical Christian Academy Colton Freeman Little Friends (Hayden) Lighthouse Christian School Whole Child Pre-School and Daycare Center Point Lakes Bible Academy Smart Streets Pre-School Wilson Creek Rosalia Mary Walker Pullman Northwest Christian Nine Mile Falls St. John Endicott Chritian Heritage Lind Sprague Lamont Great Northern Orchard Prarie Lacrosse

The snow had let up by sunrise through most of the region, however as the storm system moved west, a Heavy Snow Warning was still in effect for much of the North Idaho Panhandle until 10 a.m.