February 23, 2019 GMT

Winter storm warnings and winter storm watches are in effect in East Idaho in anticipation of what could be one of the most powerful storms to hit the region so far this season.

The Idaho Transportation Department took the unusual step on Friday of issuing its own warning to East Idahoans about the incoming storm, which is forecast to hit Saturday evening and continue through Tuesday afternoon.

Beyond that, snow remains in the forecast for East Idaho Wednesday through next Friday, but the National Weather Service has not yet issued estimates on how much snow will fall on those days.


The weather service said that driving conditions in much of East Idaho “will be very difficult to impossible” because of the snow-covered roads and blowing and drifting snow Saturday evening through Tuesday afternoon.

In many areas of East Idaho, the big storm is forecast to potentially dump over a foot of snow during that time frame.

The Transportation Department said the winter weather could become so severe in East Idaho starting on Saturday evening that not only will there be road closures, but snowplows will likely not be able to operate because of the dangerous conditions.

“We are expecting some substantial winds and snowfall along with very low temperatures,” Transportation Department District Operations Manager Wade Allen said. “Starting (Saturday), our crews will be working around the clock to keep roads open, but they expect to close roads as weather proceeds and it is deemed unsafe for them to plow.”

The National Weather Service’s winter storm warnings are calling for 1 to 2 feet of snow — or possibly more — to fall Saturday evening through Tuesday afternoon in the following areas: Island Park, Ashton, Driggs, Victor, Tetonia, Palisades and Swan Valley.

The following areas are under winter storm watches calling for 12 to 20 inches of snow during that same time frame: Bone, Henry, Wayan, Soda Springs, Grace and Bancroft.

The following areas of East Idaho are forecast to receive 8 to 12 inches of snow Saturday evening through Tuesday afternoon though they are not currently under any winter weather warnings: Rexburg, St. Anthony, Sugar City, Rigby, Craters of the Moon, Arco, Spencer, Arbon, Inkom, Lava Hot Springs, Arimo, McCammon, Downey, Swanlake, Montpelier, Georgetown, Paris, St. Charles and Thatcher. If the forecast holds, winter weather warnings will almost certainly be declared for those areas.

The rest of East Idaho, including American Falls, Aberdeen, Burley, Malad, Preston, Pocatello, Chubbuck, Blackfoot, Fort Hall, Idaho Falls, Ammon, Rockland, Malta and Dubois, could possibly receive a few inches of snow Saturday evening through Tuesday afternoon. No winter weather warnings have yet been issued for those areas either, but that could change if the forecast holds or escalates.


The weather service said the storm will also bring 40 mph winds to East Idaho and rain could be mixed in with the falling snow, especially in the lower elevations.

“If you must travel, keep an extra flashlight, food and water in your vehicle in case of an emergency,” the weather service said.

Elsewhere in Idaho, winter storm warnings are in effect in the central Idaho mountains, including Hailey, Sun Valley, Ketchum and Stanley, and in areas north of Boise and Mountain Home.

Winter storm warnings, winter storm watches and/or winter weather advisories are in effect in Washington state, Oregon, Montana, Wyoming and Utah because of the incoming snowstorm.