Jackson Hole Mountain Resort still closed due to power outages

By Amanda Eggert EBS Senior Editor

The effects of the ferocious storm that left Teton Village and Jackson Hole Mountain Resort without power are still being felt, as avalanches close roads in and out of Jackson, Wyoming, and Lower Valley Energy crews continue to replace transmission poles that buckled under the force of 90 mph winds on Feb. 7.

According to a 9 a.m. update on JHMR’s website, the ski area remains closed. Fourteen inches of snow fell on the upper mountain within the past 24 hours bringing the season total to 426 inches in what could be a record-breaking year.

But don’t plan on earning your turns at the area while the ticket windows remain closed—the update notes that “no uphill travel on the mountain is being strictly enforced” and ski patrol have been seeing “many results” from their avalanche mitigation work.

JHMR canceled upcoming events including skijoring this weekend and the Special Olympics Tuesday, Feb. 7 through Thursday, Feb. 9.

“We’re obviously playing it by ear,” said David Johnson with JHMR’s marketing department. “We would like to open as soon as possible.”

Barring weather issues or hardware equipment issues, Lower Valley Energy hopes to have power fully restored to the area by late Saturday. According to Brian Tanabe, a spokesman for the energy utility, the 17 steel transmission poles that buckled will be replaced by 28 temporary wooden poles. He said as of late last night, 11 wooden poles had been installed and he was appreciative of the community’s support and patience.

Road closures prevented hardware from Denver necessary for the replacements from entering the area yesterday. Lower Valley Energy made equipment runs to both Salt Lake City and Boise overnight and they’re being assisted by 25 linemen who’ve joined the effort from five neighboring utilities.

Tanabe said Teton County Commissioners met this morning about the issuance of a disaster declaration. If the declaration is approved by Gov. Matt Mead, the area could obtain federal disaster relief funding.

The Wyoming Department of Transportation closed Teton Pass and Snake River Canyon due to avalanches caused by “unprecedented levels of snow accumulation and drastic temperature swings.” The DOT noted in a press release that the threat of additional avalanches is high. The estimated reopening date for Teton Pass is Saturday, Feb. 11.

Highway 189/191 was closed between Daniel Junction and Bundurant Thursday and Friday morning due to avalanche concerns at Hoback Junction. As of 11 a.m. Friday, it was expected to reopen within an hour.

Highway 390 between its junction with Highway 22 and Teton Village is currently closed to all unnecessary travel by law enforcement request.

Visit map.wyoroad.info for up-to-date information on road conditions and closures.

Tanabe said the Jackson Hole Airport is operational, running primarily off generator-sourced power.

The Bridger Teton Avalanche Center has issued an avalanche warning for the Teton area. Since Feb. 2, more than six feet of snow containing over 9 inches of moisture has fallen at high elevations in the Tetons.

“Very dangerous avalanche conditions exist,” the advisory says. “Once initiated, any slide is likely to [contain] large volumes of snow.” The advisory notes that a snowmobiler was killed by an avalanche on Black Mountain near Alpine yesterday.