By Journal Staff
Winter is not ready to call it quits in East Idaho as evidenced by the big storm that’s forecast to bring snow and destructive winds to the region’s higher and lower elevations on Thursday.
The gusts will likely be powerful enough to create near zero visibility conditions in parts of East Idaho and could cause property damage.
The National Weather Service has issued winter weather advisories, high wind warnings and wind advisories for the region because of the storm that’s forecast to hit East Idaho Thursday morning and continue pounding the region through Thursday night.
The region’s higher mountains are forecast to receive up to 12 inches of snow during that time frame, but it’s possible even more could fall.
Mountain communities such as Island Park, Ashton, St. Anthony, Driggs, Victor, Palisades, Bone, Soda Springs, Lava Hot Springs, Wayan, Montpelier, McCammon, Arimo, Spencer, Arco, Downey, Thatcher and Inkom could receive up to five inches of snow Thursday morning through Thursday night.
Snow is also expected in East Idaho’s lower elevations. Pocatello and Chubbuck could receive up to three inches of snow while the region’s other lower elevation areas including Idaho Falls, Rexburg, Rigby, American Falls, Preston, Blackfoot and Fort Hall are forecast to receive less than an inch on Thursday.
In addition to the snow, the storm is forecast to dump up to three-quarters of an inch of rain on East Idaho.
The weather service said winds of up to 60 mph are forecast to hit the region and these could knock down tree branches and power lines. Power outages are a definite possibility in East Idaho because of the storm.
Driving on Interstates 15, 84 and 86 and on Highways 20 and 26 could be especially hazardous because of the winds, which will be strong enough to make controlling a vehicle difficult.
The winds will also create blowing dust and blowing snow that will likely reduce visibility in parts of East Idaho to near zero.
Between the snow, rain and high winds, driving conditions in East Idaho could be very hazardous on Thursday, especially in higher elevation areas.
The storm has also caused the weather service to issue a winter weather advisory for the central Idaho mountains, including the Hailey, Challis, Stanley, Sun Valley, Salmon and Mackay areas.
Winter weather advisories and winter storm warnings have been issued in North Idaho, while high wind warnings have been issued in south central and southwest Idaho, including the Burley, Shoshone, Twin Falls, Jerome, Boise and Mountain Home areas.
Outside of Idaho, the storm has resulted in multiple winter weather and high wind-related warnings in Washington state, Montana, Wyoming, Utah and Nevada.
The weather service said the storm will likely not be winter’s last gasp. The forecast for the next two weeks in East Idaho is calling for below normal temperatures and above normal precipitation meaning more cold and snow could be on the way.