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Sunday, March 3, 2024
March 3, 2024

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Strong winds cause hundreds of power outages in region; Avista on track to restore natural gas by Tuesday for Palouse


SPOKANE — Strong winds knocked out power to over 850 customers Saturday afternoon in Eastern Washington and North Idaho, but crews restored electricity to nearly half of those customers by early Saturday night.

As of 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Inland Power and Light Company reported 391 customers without power in Spokane County. At the same time, Avista Utilities reported 13 customers without power in the Spokane area, five in the Coeur d’Alene area and 29 on the Palouse.

Wind gusts reached highs of 40 mph to the low 50s in the region, topping out at 53 mph at the Deer Park Airport, said Rachael Fewkes, meteorologist at the National Weather Service Spokane. The Spokane International Airport recorded 52 mph gusts, Post Falls reached 48 and the Coeur d’Alene Airport culminated at 47 mph.

Winds are expected to calm Sunday with 7 to 10 mph winds in the morning and 10 to 15 in the afternoon at the Spokane International Airport, Fewkes said.

Meanwhile, Avista crews continued Saturday to restore natural gas to Palouse and Lewiston-Clarkston Valley residents after the Williams Pipeline between Pullman and Colfax ruptured last week. An estimated 37,000 Avista customers experienced natural gas outages, the largest such outage in the energy company’s history.

Avista expects to have natural gas services restored by the end of Tuesday, according to a Saturday news release.

More than 400 teams are relighting customers’ natural gas appliances, said Jared Webley, Avista’s senior communications manager. Including Avista personnel, the release said more than 800 people are responding to restore services.

The release said each of the teams is averaging more than four relights an hour and the number of relights per hour throughout the region peaked at 900.

“It’s safe to say we’re making progress,” Webley said.

Information about the estimated restoration times identified by area can be accessed by visiting www.myavista.com/outages/wp-updates.