BLACKFOOT — Bingham County has had some winter weather this season, but the biggest mess of the season so far arrived on Monday.
Schools were closed throughout the county because of poor road conditions as freshly fallen snow was whipped up by high-speed winds which hammered the region in most areas with drifts which left motorists stuck, sliding off the road, mishaps, and road crews left trying to keep up with the mess.
Dusty Whited, Bingham County public works director, said recently that winter conditions had been relatively mild for his crews up to then.
That all changed on Monday.
“We would encourage people to stay home unless it’s absolutely necessary to travel,” Whited said Monday. He said county road crews had been out off and on since Friday evening working on the roads.
At this point, the county has had every crew member and every plow and grader out trying to keep roads passable, he added.
“We’re just trying to keep at least one lane open for emergencies,” Whited said.
When asked if there were any particular trouble spots in the county, Whited said everything on the north end of the county in the Shelley area has been the biggest challenge.
“It’s mostly from drifting,” he noted. “Citizens need to be patient, and if a road is closed that we don’t now about, call and let us know.”
Drivers can call (208) 782-3173 to report poor road conditions, or the sheriff’s office if it’s not during normal hours and roads are impassable.
Trying to keep up with the drifting on roads that have just been plowed has been a major part of the challenges crews have faced with this storm, Whited said.
“We’ve seen people off the side of the roads, stuck in snow drifts on roads that were already plowed not that long before,” he added.
Various locations in eastern Idaho were experiencing high-speed winds that were creating blowing and drifting snow and low visibility on the roadways, according to an Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) press release. The ITD has temporarily closed numerous roads because of the snowy and icy conditions.
Due to current weather conditions in Eastern Idaho, the following roadways are closed:
- ID-26 from Ririe to ID-31 in Swan Valley
- ID-32 from Ashton to Tetonia
- ID-33 from Newdale to ID-32 Tetonia
- ID-47 from Ashton to Bear Gulch
- ID-87 from US-20 intersection to Montana Stateline
- US-20 from Ashton to Montana Stateline
- I-15 from Idaho Falls to Roberts and Dubois to Montana Stateline
ITD will be plowing around the clock until the roadways are clear and safe to open. This storm is predicted to last through Thursday and roadways are not expected to reopen until wind speeds slow down, weather permitting.
The Idaho State Police and ITD are encouraging motorists to use caution and choose alternate routes if they must travel. In case of an emergency, call 911 for assistance.
Drivers are advised to drive at a safe distance, slow down and prepare travel plans ahead of time by checking 511 for road updates, https://511.idaho.gov/.
Law enforcement officials are also encouraging drivers to make sure windshields and windows on their vehicles are cleared of snow and ice, with a zero tolerance policy which could lead to a hefty fine.
Officials are also enforcing winter parking and snow removal ordinances more stringently. The City of Blackfoot has several city codes and a proclamation regarding snow removal and parking on city streets during the winter months that are being enforced with winter conditions.