A snowstorm that swept across East Idaho on Monday and Tuesday brought with it a domino effect of car crashes, downed trees and power lines, lost hikers, and the most snowfall Pocatello has seen in early October since 1971.
Some parts of the Pocatello area saw about 4 inches of snow by the time the flurries had settled and the sky cleared late Tuesday morning, according to John Hinsberger, a local National Weather Service meteorologist. The most snowfall recorded in all of East Idaho from the storm was farther north in Idaho Falls and an area northeast of Rigby at just over 8 inches.
Hinsberger said he couldn’t recall from recent memory a storm in early October that brought that much snowfall to the region’s lower elevations. The last time Pocatello got any significant snow this early in the season was a storm on Oct. 1, 1971, which brought about 6 inches of snow.
While the weather kept most people indoors, the storm didn’t leave without incident as the Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office reported its deputies and volunteers successfully rescued two missing hikers on the Hell’s Half Acre trail west of Idaho Falls on Monday night.
The pair of hikers had been walking with their dogs when severe weather set in and they were unable to navigate the trail, according to the sheriff’s office. At about 10 p.m. rescuers launched a search, and with the help of a relative, to whom the pair had given their coordinates before losing communication, the couple and their dogs were located within a few hours.
Winds were blowing at about 50 miles per hour and rescuers reported cold, snowy conditions with a wind chill of about 12 degrees Fahrenheit during the rescue operation.
Upon rescue, both individuals were treated for hypothermia and released, police said.
In Pocatello, the accumulated snowfall weighed down trees, causing several trees and branches to fall across town. One tree even knocked down a power line, nearly sparking a fire at about 10 a.m. Tuesday in the 200 block of North Thirteenth Avenue, according to Kim Stouse of the Pocatello Fire Department.
Stouse said the downed power line sparked several times but a fire never ignited. No one was injured and a nearby house did not sustain any significant damage during the incident. Fire crews and Idaho Power were able to clear the scene in about two hours, Stouse said.
On the roads Tuesday morning, the Idaho State Police responded to four car crashes and a few slide-offs in the Pocatello area as the storm continued. Idaho State Police Lt. Mike Winans said no one was injured in the crashes, which were all single-vehicle wrecks.
More snow is expected in East Idaho on Wednesday evening into Thursday, Hinsberger said, though the snowfall will likely be much lighter with about one inch of snow predicted to fall in Pocatello, and at most about 2 inches of snow possible near Rexburg.