A fierce winter storm pummeled the Flathead Valley on Thursday evening as an arctic front spilled over the Continental Divide, bringing snow, ice, wind, accidents and numerous trees down with it.
Columbia Falls firefighters alone responded to a 14 calls during the storm. Most of the calls were due to down trees and power lines.
The most serious was a tree that fell onto a trailer at the Eastwood Village Park Trailer Court, heavily damaging the structure.
The Red Cross is helping the family out, as the tree came down right above the furnace and the hot water heater.
All told, about 4,178 members of the Flathead Electric Co-op were without power at some point during the storm. Some people had no power for several hours.
Cooperative spokeswoman Wendy Ostrom-Price said it was “all hands on deck” with about 30 lineman out during the storm.
There were also numerous car accidents, including a truck that struck a snowplow head-on in the Bad Rock Canyon. Columbia Falls was put on standby for the Jaws of Life extrication, but once emergency personnel were on the scene, it was determined they weren’t needed.
The road was closed for about an hour while the wreck was cleared up.
The front dropped temperatures dramatically. At 1 p.m. on Thursday it was 48 degrees at the Glacier National Park Airport. By 4 p.m. it was 21. By 8:30 p.m. it was 13. The highest wind gust was 56 mph at the airport at 5 p.m. Though sustained winds were in the 30 to 40 mph range.
The storm also brought whiteout conditions, though snowfall totals were only a couple of inches in the north Flathead Valley. Up to 6 inches of snow was reported along Flathead Lake.