The snowstorm that triggered winter weather advisories for all of East Idaho arrived early Friday morning and is forecast to continue through Friday night.
The snow and 45 mph winds from the storm are creating hazardous driving conditions throughout the region.
At 12:30 p.m. Friday the Idaho Transportation Department shut down Interstate 84 from Interstate 86 to the Utah border after several weather-related crashes occurred on that 65-mile stretch of freeway.
Also temporarily closed because of the snowstorm were Highway 77 from Elba Road to Albion, Highway 81 from Malta to Cotterel, Highway 47 from Ashton to Bear Gulch, Highway 26 between Ririe and Swan Valley, Highway 33 from east of Sugar City to west of Tetonia, and Highway 32 from north of Tetonia to near Ashton.
As of early Friday evening all of the roads including Interstate 84 had been reopened.
Multiple wrecks and slide-offs occurred on Interstate 15 Friday morning in the Pocatello and Fort Hall areas as well as on Interstate 84 between Interstate 86 and the Utah border. No information on whether anyone was hurt in those accidents has yet been released.
Idaho State Police said the snowstorm has brought severe winter conditions to roads in the Idaho Falls area and motorists should use extreme caution while driving.
The Idaho Transportation Department has also issued a statement warning motorists about the hazardous road conditions in East Idaho caused by the storm. ITD said the combination of snow and high winds might result in local conditions too dangerous for snowplows to even operate. The department is urging motorists to refrain from driving on East Idaho’s roads during the storm if possible.
The National Weather Service said the area of East Idaho hardest hit by the storm will be the mountains south of Soda Springs all the way to the Utah border. This area, which includes Emigration Summit, could receive up to 14 inches of snow on Friday and whiteout conditions are possible, meaning that driving in this area could be extremely hazardous during the storm.
The storm could dump up to 5 inches of snow on much of the rest of the region including the Inkom, McCammon, Downey, Arimo, Swanlake, Lava Hot Springs, Malad, Preston, Thatcher, St. Charles, Montpelier, Georgetown, Paris, Grace, Bancroft, Soda Springs, Henry, Bone, Wayan, Swan Valley, Palisades, Victor, Ashton, Tetonia, Driggs, Island Park and Kilgore areas. It’s even possible that up to 10 inches of snow could fall on some of the higher mountains of those areas depending on the severity of the storm.
The storm is forecast to bring up to 2 or 3 inches of snow to the following areas: Holbrook, Albion, Almo, Malta, Mud Lake, Idaho National Laboratory, Craters of the Moon, Idaho Falls, Ammon, Rexburg, Rigby, St. Anthony, Pocatello, Chubbuck, Blackfoot, American Falls, Aberdeen, Shelley, Firth, Fort Hall, Dubois, Arbon, Rockland, Spencer, Arco, Burley, Rupert, Paul, Heyburn, Declo, Raft River and Oakley areas.
The weather service said the storm will also bring winds of up to 45 mph to East Idaho on Friday. These winds will cause blowing and drifting snow that will result in hazardous driving conditions throughout the region. People driving in East Idaho during the storm should make sure they have flashlights, blankets, food and water in their vehicles in case of an emergency, the weather service said.
Elsewhere in the state, winter weather advisories regarding the snowstorm are in effect in the central Idaho mountains including the Stanley, Ketchum, Hailey, Challis, Mackay and Sun Valley areas as well as in parts of south central and North Idaho.
Outside of Idaho, winter weather advisories, winter storm warnings and/or winter storm watches have been declared in Washington state, Oregon, Montana, Wyoming and Utah because of the snowstorm.