SPOKANE - Substantial and sustained winds that continued to blow across Idaho and Washington Wednesday morning caused widespread outages for electric customers across the region. As of 9:30 a.m. Wednesday morning, approximately 67,677 Avista electric customers were without power.
Outages began to occur on Avista’s system at 4:00 a.m. with both transmission and distribution systems impacted. Winds are expected to continue across Avista's service area through the late afternoon Wednesday. Avista says significant tree damage and trees falling into lines and roadways presents challenging conditions for crews to complete outage assessment and restoration. The company says as the wind stops blowing and it is safe to do so, Avista will continue to assess the extent of the damage to the electric system and restore power.
Some customers should be prepared for prolonged outages. Avista says assessments may take 24 hours or more in some cases, due to the widespread damage. Many estimated restoration times are currently unknown and will be updated as assessments are completed.
The company says they are experiencing a large volume of phone calls, and customers should expect longer hold times.
Avista suggests customers take the following steps during an outage:
- Turn off all the appliances that were on before the power went out.
- Unplug electronic equipment, including computers.
- Leave a light or radio on as an alert when power has been restored.
- Help Avista crews working in a neighborhood know which homes have power by turning on the front porch light.
- Do not wire an emergency generator into a home’s electrical system, unless there is a disconnect switch to separate generated power from Avista’s distribution system. Backfeed into power lines could injure or kill a lineman working to get electricity restored.
- Use a generator only to run specific appliances and locate it outside so poisonous carbon monoxide fumes do not enter the home.