Tens of Thousands Lose Power in Montana Spring Snowstorm

Approximately 30,000 homes and businesses in Bozeman lost electricity on Tuesday morning

By Dillon Tabish

HELENA — A spring storm swept through Montana, dumping up to 20 inches of snow in the mountains and knocking out power to tens of thousands of people across the state, officials said Tuesday.

Approximately 30,000 homes and businesses in Bozeman lost electricity on Tuesday morning as the storm moved through, NorthWestern Energy spokesman Butch Larcombe said. The lights were back on across most of the city less than two hours later, and crews worked to restore the remaining powerless areas and to find the cause of the outages.

“We had an issue with the transmission line,” Larcombe said. “We don’t know what the issue is, but we expect it’s related to snow and wind.”

The night before, the storm cut power to customers in Phillipsburg and Judith Gap. There were pockets of smaller outages scattered across central and southwestern Montana, Larcombe said.

Much of the state saw snowfall starting Monday night and continuing on Tuesday, said National Weather Service meteorologist Keith Jaszka. Blowing snow, slush and scattered snow and ice made driving difficult in parts of central and southwestern Montana, according to the state Department of Transportation.

At lower elevations, the snow melted upon contact with the ground. But above 5,000 feet, snowfall accumulations of 12 to 18 inches were reported, with 20 inches falling in the mountains southeast of Bozeman, Jaszka said.

The late-season snowfall in the mountains isn’t unusual, and it should help replenish the snowpack in dry areas of the state, he said.

“Definitely this will be very beneficial for southwestern and north-central Montana,” Jaszka said.

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