(UPDATE, 8:30 am Sunday) Thousands of customers in and around Great Falls are still without power on Sunday morning, including Vaughn, Sun Prairie, and areas of Great Falls.
For some people, the outage has lasted for more than 12 hours. For others, outages have been sporadic and brief. Some neighborhoods in Great Falls experienced flickering dozens of times overnight.
NorthWestern Energy said in a Facebook post at 6:30 a.m. on Sunday: "Wind and ice build up on lines are contributing to outages throughout the area. Our crews are out working to restore service safely as quickly as possible."
Here is what the NorthWestern Energy outage map looks like as of 8:30 a.m. on Sunday:
Roads across the region remain extremely hazardous due to snow, ice, and blowing snow. Some areas have already received more than a foot of snow.
WINTER WEATHER RESOURCES:
- STORMTracker Weather page
- Live interactive radar
- STORMTracker on Facebook
- Montana webcams
- Road Conditions
Some of the recent updates from people on the KRTV Facebook page:
- Victoria Villarreal (8:50 am): No heat, running water or coffee in Manchester for 12 hours. A bit cold in the house
- Sabrina Jenkins (8;33 am): We have been without power over 12hours with no power and no other heat source luckily we have lots of blankets.
- Kizell Goble (8:04 am): We have been without power for over 12 hours with no heat source...in sun prairie. I know this storm is bad and I am forever grateful for those working in restoring the power.
- Stella Johnson (7:57 am): So thankful for the hard workers. Thank you guys. No power for 7 hours and finally got ours back on.
- Lisa Andis (6:12 am): Been without power since 7 pm in Sun Prairie area. Came back on for maybe and hour, and lost it again.
(10:25 pm Saturday) Power has been out for some people for several hours, and other residents report intermittent flickering. We have also received reports of at least two transformers that have caught fire.
Several people have asked whether the Calumet refinery in Great Falls is on fire - it is not. A reporter drove by at about 9:40 p.m. and there are no signs of any fire or emergency. The usual flame does appear larger and brighter than usual, likely due to the fog and weather.
(1st Report, 7:25 pm Saturday) NorthWestern Energy said in a tweet they are aware of the outage in the Great Falls and Vaughn area and a service team is en route to restore power as soon as possible. A viewer reported an outage in Sun Prairie as well.
NorthWestern Energy's outage map said that at least 1,100 people in Great Falls have been affected by the outage, which had an estimated repair time of 10:30 p.m.
The outage comes as a Blizzard Warning is in effect from 2 p.m. on Saturday through 6 a.m. on Monday. For a storm to technically be a blizzard it needs to have sustained wind of 35 miles per hour or greater, visibility of a quarter of a mile or less, and sustain these conditions for at least three hours. On Saturday night, a spotter south of Ulm reported about 2 inches of snow just in the first hour of the storm.
The Montana Department of Transportation is reporting dangerous road conditions in the area and says to travel cautiously. We will update you when we learn more.