Resort: Closure May Last 7 Days; WYDOT: No Unnecessary Travel

By on February 8, 2017

In the wake of a raucous winter storm, power outages and treacherous road conditions endure across the valley.

Sorry, folks—not today.

JACKSON HOLE, WY — Jackson Hole Mountain Resort announced today it may be closed up to seven days after the area lost power Tuesday when a storm ushered in fierce winds and heavy snow. The outage—which affected at least 3,500 residents and Jackson Hole Airport—happened after 90 mph winds pummeled 17 steel electrical transmission poles on Highway 390. The last time the resort enacted a multi-day closure was 1986.

“We most certainly do not remember a time such a thing has happened,” said Brian Tanabe of Lower Valley Energy. “It’s surreal to see steel poles bent over like that. ”

(Lower Valley Energy)

Lower Valley Energy crews are scrambling to restore service. Tanabe says LVE hopes to route intermittent power to the airport by this afternoon. It has been running off generators since about 6 p.m. Tuesday. Restoring power to Teton Village and surrounding areas will take several days.

JHMR spokespeople request folks do not travel to Teton Village until further notice, particularly with another weather system moving into the area tonight. “Safety is the first concern for JHMR visitors and staff, and JHMR is asking only specific operational staff come to Teton Village today,” advised Anna Cole, JHMR communications manager.

To accommodate Teton Village hotel guests, the resort is working with Rich Ochs, Teton County emergency management coordinator, who has organized the efforts of more than a dozen valley organizations. They are working together to transfer guests from Teton Village to vacant hotel rooms in town.

By tomorrow morning—just in time for the next storm system—all guests will be evacuated.

Yes, about that next storm: “Warming temperatures could result in possible flooding in the valley, making conditions challenging for many reasons,” Cole explained. “JHMR is seriously enforcing no uphill travel this week and asks everyone to stay off the mountain.”

Meanwhile, the Wyoming Department of Transportation has issued a “no unnecessary travel” advisory due to unsafe driving conditions including widespread black ice. Residents and travelers should plan ahead and stay home tonight and tomorrow, advised WYDOT’s Stephanie Harsha.

Avalanche danger, officials warn, is a major concern. “We are expecting more rain—rain on new snow—which is a perfect recipe for avalanches,” noted avalanche technician Jamie Yount in a press release. In addition to the high avalanche danger, WYDOT officials warn that the weather service has also issued a flood watch for the area. Hazardous winds are also in the forecast.

Teton Pass, which has been shut down since early Tuesday morning due to treacherous conditions, remains closed. Officials estimate opening the highway this afternoon. “Many commuters were hoping to see a Teton Pass opening early this morning, but several natural slides overnight prevented crews from safely opening the pass,” Harsha explained.

Other thoroughfares have been impacted too, Harsha noted. “Several snow accumulation issues and slides are also affecting both the Snake River Canyon and the Hoback Canyon, closing them both for periods of time.”

WYDOT crews have been working day and night since a warm, gusty storm system descended on the valley Monday. Crews will continue to be out in full force this week fighting conditions and clearing roadways for travel, Harsha said.

 

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About Robyn Vincent

Robyn is the editor of Planet Jackson Hole and Jackson Hole Snowboarder Magazine. When she's not sweating deadlines, she likes to travel the world with her notebook and camera in hand. Follow her on Twitter @TheNomadicHeart

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