Deep powder, no power in wake of Arctic blast

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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The mixed blessings of a harsh blast of winter weather Friday left thousands without power in Colfax and Foresthill – and ski resorts exulting over a deep deposit of fresh powder from on high. With more than 2 feet of snow in the two Placer County mountain communities and strong winds knocking down trees and tree limbs, Pacific Gas & Electric is asking for patience over the weekend as it attempts to restore power. Denny Boyle, spokesman for the power provider, said Friday that 2,618 customers in Foresthill had their electricity knocked out in a storm that started Thursday night and 3,030 customers were powerless in Colfax. Auburn’s energy system, by comparison, held up well, with just 17 customers without power by late Friday afternoon. Cool had a single customer out while the count in Meadow Vista was 221 without electricity. “We’re already having access issues and road closures,” Boyle said. “Some customers could be out two to five days.” Boyle added that PG&E was working as quickly as possible to restore power in areas that were accessible and would do the same for more isolated areas when crews could get in. Lake Tahoe’s Alpine Meadows, Boreal Mountain and Homewood Mountain are some of the resorts reporting epic snowfalls – and good timing. Jon Slaughter, Boreal marketing director, said storms have been coming in during the week and clearing out in time for the weekend, allowing skiers and snowboarders to take advantage of the fresh snow – and clear roads to the resorts. Alpine Meadows reported up to 20 inches of new snow by Friday. “The snowfall totals are incredibly impressive,” Alpine Meadows General Manager Ken Hoopingarner said. “Homewood is having an absolutely phenomenal winter, with a whopping 17 feet of total snowpack at its upper mountain snow stake.” The National Weather Service was forecasting the storm would taper off by Saturday, with sun in the forecast Sunday. The half-hour snowstorm late Friday morning led the Auburn Union School District to play its safety card and let school out earlier than expected. Douglas Crancer, the 2,000-student district’s assistant superintendent, said officials ordered an early run of buses after the storm hit. Students’ parents were notified to pick children up at the minimum-day time after 12:30 p.m. “Our primary concern is the safety of the children,” Crancer said. --------------------------------------------- Whiteout causes blackouts: Storm power cut numbers Auburn – 17 customers Meadow Vista – 221 Foresthill – 2,618 Colfax – 3,030 Cool – 1 Grass Valley – 15,564 Source: Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (as of Friday afternoon).