Winter Storm Knocks Out Power for Thousands in Flathead

Flathead Electric Co-op says most power has been restored to 4,000 sites that lost it

By Molly Priddy

Early winter weather blowing into the Flathead caused power outages for at least 4,000 homes and businesses in the valley, though as of Monday evening, more than 3,000 were restored.

According to Flathead Electric Cooperative spokesperson Wendy Ostrom Price, the outages were first reported early on Oct. 10 due to the snowstorm that had unloaded overnight.

“At our height, there were 30 outages and 4,000 people out,” Ostrom Price said. “Now we have nine outages and 631 members still impacted.”

All of Flathead Electric’s crews were deployed to battle the downed power lines, often caused by toppled trees. Snow also affected the power substations at Badrock and West Glacier, Ostrom Price said.

As of Monday evening, power was still out for many members in West Glacier and Essex, with a few in Whitefish and Columbia Falls. Ostrom Price said it can take crews more time to access places with deep snow, because they have to dig in and dig out.

Most outage calls started arriving at Flathead Electric around 6 a.m. on Oct. 10, with one West Glacier resident reporting an outage at 3 a.m.

Flathead Electric crews will continue to work until full power restoration, Ostrom Price said.

Ostrom Price also cautioned Flathead Valley residents to stay away from downed power lines.

“If people see a line down, report it to us,” she said. “Like a gun, how you’re supposed to assume they’re all loaded, assume all lines are energized.”