Friday, March 2, 2012

Late-winter storm dumps 10 inches

Bane to motorists is boon to skiers


By TERRY SMITH
Express Staff Writer

Snowblowers were a handy commodity Wednesday as heavy snowfall blanketed the Wood River Valley. These folks are shown trying to keep up with the deluge Wednesday morning near the intersection of First and Main streets in Ketchum. Photo by David N. Seelig

Depending on one's point of view, this week's heavy snowfall was either a bane or a boon.

While pedestrians slipped and motorists slid in some areas of the Wood River Valley on Wednesday after a heavy snowfall whipped by moderate winds, skiers took advantage of some 10 inches of high-quality dry powder on Bald Mountain.

The storm, which descended on Blaine County on Tuesday night, fell short of blizzard conditions such as occurred last Saturday when zero visibility on state Highway 75 south of Bellevue caused a nine-vehicle accident and led to closure of the road as far south as Shoshone for about two hours.

The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning for Blaine County and surrounding areas Wednesday. However, the warning was downgraded to a winter storm advisory as snowfall tapered off Wednesday afternoon.

Total new snowfall through Thursday afternoon varied from about 8 inches in the valley to about 10 inches at higher elevations.

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Snowfall was particularly heavy Wednesday morning, when various city, Blaine County and Idaho Transportation Department snowplows struggled to keep the roadways clear.

A lull in the storm Wednesday afternoon allowed plows to catch up, and most streets and roads were cleared for driving by Thursday morning.

Throughout the storm, schools and roads stayed open.

Friedman Memorial Airport didn't open until about 2:30 p.m. Wednesday. The field was open on Thursday but SkyWest Airlines commercial flights were being diverted to Twin Falls.

"I have a black airport," said Airfield Operations Chief Peter Kramer. "We're open—we're in business."

The National Weather Service is forecasting the possibility of additional precipitation today and even into Saturday, but with only 20-40 percent chances of snow.

Terry Smith: tsmith@mtexpress.com




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