UPDATED: Blowing snow shuts down U.S. Highway 95 all day Monday

·3 min read

Jan. 4—UPDATE AT 6:45 A.M.: U.S. Highway 95 reopened early Tuesday morning, according to the Idaho County Sheriff's Office.

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ORIGINAL STORY: A 15-mile stretch of Idaho's only north-south highway was closed all day Monday and into the evening because of blowing, drifting snow that struck much of the region.

U.S. Highway 95 between Grangeville and Cottonwood was closed all day, leaving travelers stuck on both sides. As temperatures fell Monday evening, it didn't appear the highway would reopen until this morning at the soonest.

In Cottonwood, some stranded travelers were being housed at Emmanuel Baptist Church, according to a Cottonwood Police Department Facebook post.

"Spread the word if someone sees someone who needs a place to sit this out," the post said.

Other Camas Prairie routes that were closed Monday included State Highway 64 east of Nezperce, between Payne Drive and Tramway Road; State Highway 162, between Red Rock Road and its intersection with State Highway 7 near Greencreek; Johnston Cutoff Road; and Tolo Lake Road.

Conditions were similarly fraught for travelers in southeastern Washington, where State Route 272, from near Colfax to the Idaho state line; and State Route 194, from near Almota Road to U.S. Highway 195, were closed into the evening Monday.

The weather issues also led to school closures at Highland of Craigmont, Cottonwood, Nezperce, Potlatch, Colton, St. John-Endicott, Pomeroy and Tekoa, while there were delayed starts at Genesee, Grangeville, Colfax, Oakesdale, Pullman and Rosalia schools.

Not much snow fell on the region Monday; instead, it was wind gusts up to 60 mph blowing snow that was already on the ground that caused the difficulty. The wind is expected to be lighter today, according to the National Weather Service at Spokane.

After having a few flights to and from Seattle canceled last week because of staffing and weather issues at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, the Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport has seen fewer flights called off in the last few days.

Pullman airport Executive Director Tony Bean said one flight from Seattle was canceled Friday night because of visibility issues at Pullman — a much more rare occurrence since a new runway and equipment was installed more than two years ago. That also meant there was no plane to fly to Seattle the following day, so that departure was canceled.

And on Monday, a flight to Boise was canceled because of electrical issues with a plane, Bean said.

At the Lewiston-Nez Perce County Regional Airport, one round-trip flight to Denver and one to Salt Lake City have been canceled since Christmas because of issues outside of Lewiston, said airport Director Michael Isaacs.

When Lewiston's low temperature early Saturday morning was minus 1, it was the first time since Nov. 24, 2010, that the town had a sub-zero reading, according to the NWS at Spokane.

The streak of 4,055 days without a sub-zero reading is the longest on record for Lewiston, according to an NWS tweet.

Baney may be contacted at mbaney@lmtribune.com or (208) 848-2262. Follow him on Twitter @MattBaney_Trib.

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