March madness: High winds cause Monday mayhem

kmoeller@idahostatesman.comMarch 18, 2014 

Whoosh! A cold front packing high winds blew across southern Idaho on Monday, hitting the City of Trees before 5 a.m. Wind gusts up to 52 mph were recorded at the Boise Airport (9:53 a.m.). Peak winds were even stronger to the east — Mountain Home, 59 mph (10:45 a.m. and 11:13 a.m.); Jerome, 62 mph (1:53 p.m.); and Twin Falls, 67 mph (11:57 a.m.).

About 3,000 customers in the Treasure Valley lost power. Trees and branches into power lines knocked out power early Monday. Most had power restored by 10 a.m., according to Idaho Power officials.

It was worse farther east Idaho Power dealt with outages across its service area, with nearly 3,000 customers losing power in Pocatello and Chubbuck for two hours in the afternoon, according to the Idaho State Journal. More than 6,000 customers lost power at one point in the Magic Valley, Idaho Power reported.

At least eight vehicles, including six semis, overturned on U.S. 93 (Perrine Bridge and milepost 60), Idaho 50 (Hansen Bridge) and Interstate 15 (near Downey), according to Idaho State Police. A Nampa man — John Frederickson, 49 — drove one of the semis that fell over on the Perrine Bridge.

Roofing material blew off of Jerome's City Hall, closing the building for the day, the (Twin Falls) Times-News reported. The Perrine and Hansen bridges over the Snake River Canyon both closed at one point. Signs, power poles and traffic signals were knocked down.

Blustery and dusty all day Mid-afternoon, winds were still gusting at more than 40 mph in Boise and more than 50 mph in Mountain Home. At times, blowing dust reduced visibility down to a half-mile in Mountain Home; it closed Interstate 15 near Idaho Falls for most of the day, the State Journal reported.

Good timing? When trees are leafed out, they are more susceptible to high winds, a National Weather Service meteorologist said. With spring still a couple days away, most trees aren't yet leafing out.

What about Tuesday? Temperatures will drop to the high 20s early Tuesday. But forecasters say the day will be sunny and clear, with highs possibly topping 50. Winds will be light.

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