Extreme Weather Takes Toll On Jackson Area

Feb 8, 2017

Crews inspect a downed pole south of Teton Village. Seventeen steel transmission poles buckled along Highway 390 to Teton Village causing a major power outage in Teton County and closing Jackson Hole Mountain Resort.
Credit Kenneth W Gerard

It turns out there can be too much of a good thing, even when it comes to snow in a ski town like Jackson.

Earlier this week, a series of winter storms caused the roof of a building that housed three businesses to collapse there. Then, Monday night, winds in excess of 90 miles an hour buckled about ten steel transmission poles, leaving several areas around Jackson without power, including Teton Village. About 3,000 people have been affected by the outage.

It was earlier reported that people in Teton Village were being evacuated but that’s not the case, according to Teton County Emergency Management Coordinator Rich Ochs. He said those residents should instead contact the Red Cross for help at 1-800-675-5799.

But tourists, he said, are in a different situation.

“If they’re folks from out of town and they’re tourists, the Red Cross really can’t assist them because it’s not their primary residence they’re displaced from,” said Ochs. “But Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce is offering to assist those folks from out of town and offer them recommendations on travel or places that may have hotel rooms available."

Their number is 307-733-3316.

Ochs said it could be a long haul for the folk who may not get power back for another week. And Ochs said, the weather forecast doesn’t look like it’ll help much.

“Right now, we’re looking at a winter storm watch for the mountains which could cause us problems. But then, down low, they’re saying it’s going to be warm. So we actually have a flood watch. So it could complicate issues,” he said.

Ochs said the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort will be shut down until further notice because of the power outage, and multiple highways in the area are closed due to avalanche risk, including Highways 22, 191 and 89. WYDOT has even taken the unprecedented action of discouraging any unnecessary travel in the entire area because of the dangerous conditions.