Cold delays or shuts down schools, school busing, breaks power lines, water main
February 7, 2019
Editor’s note: This version is updated with information on Hill County Electric Cooperative
The coldest weather of the winter caused some problems in north-central Montana this morning, shutting down some schools, delaying others, stopping school buses, breaking at least one water main, downing power lines and causing power outages.
At one point, National Weather Service reported the temperature in Havre at a frigid minus 38 degrees fahrenheit, the coldest day so far this year, although still warmer than the record set for Feb. 5 in Havre in 1914, minus 43 degrees.
Rocky Boy Schools Superintendent Voyd St. Pierre said classes were not being held there, although staff was still coming in for training.
Box Elder Schools continued to be closed due to a problem with the boiler, which shut the schools down Wednesday, as well.
Hays-Lodge Pole schools had not by printing deadline this morning returned a call made to ask if the schools were open.
Havre Public Schools announced this morning that schools and buses were being delayed two hours due to the cold and power outages.
Harlem, Big Sandy, Chinook, North Star Schools in Rudyard and Gildford, and CJI schools in Chester all reported classes were in session, although Chinook school buses did not run this morning and one bus from Big Sandy, which runs to Box Elder, including some rural stops, did not run this morning.
Rocky Boy, Box Elder, Harlem and Hays-Lodge Pole schools closed Monday due to the cold, as well.
Several power lines were reported down this morning in the Havre area with two power outages.
Jodee Black of NorthWestern Energy said an initial report of a power outage in Highland Park in Havre said it was due to a transformer problem, but the actual cause was a downed line. That started at 4:58 a.m. and power was restored to the 1,038 impacted customers by 8:02
Another downed line caused a power outage to 210 customers on the east side of Havre, Black said, which started at 4:46 a.m. Power was restored by 7:33 a.m., she said.
Denise Kovacish of Hill County Electric Cooperative was not able to respond before printing deadline, but said later that the co-op had not experienced any power outages.
Havre Fire Department reported it responded to three downed power lines, including a call at 4:41 a.m. where a line had fallen on an unoccupied truck parked on the 3800 Block of U.S. Highway 2 Northeast. The line caused electricity to arc through the vehicle's tires and started it on fire, Havre Assistant Fire Chief Kelly Jones said. The fire department personnel stood by until NorthWestern Energy personnel shut off the line and then the firecrew extinguished the fire.
At the other two calls, fire department personnel stood by while NorthWestern Energy personnel shut off the lines, he said.
Havre Public Works Director Dave Peterson said this morning that a water line break on the 600 Block of Ninth Avenue was reported about 4 a.m. and department personnel responded and were working on the break.
Havre Public Works also issued a public service announcement this morning advising people to make sure their sewer vent pipes, generally located on the roof of houses, were not frozen and to keep a trickle of cold water running through a tap during extreme cold weather to prevent water service lines from freezing. The department received several reports of frozen water lines, the PSA said.
Temperatures are expected to turn comparatively mild, with highs for today predicted at about zero degrees and lows predicted at single-digits below zero to the minus-teens tonight.
Temperatures are expected to hit highs in the single digits above or below zero for the next few days, with lows from about minus 5 to near minus 20.
Snow showers are predicted Friday and Saturday, with little chance of snow Sunday through the middle of next week.