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High winds cause closures, power outages

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho - Wind is wreaking havoc in eastern Idaho.

The National Weather Service has issued a high wind warning Monday for parts of Butte, Bonneville, Madison and Fremont counties.

Power outages were being reported in those areas, including 2,460 Rocky Mountain Power customers without power in Idaho Falls and Ammon, where electricity was restored after 5 p.m.

Idaho Falls homeowner Shirley Roberts said she didn't even hear her tree go down, but she knew something was wrong.

"Suddenly the light went dead, and I thought, 'Uh-oh,'" she said.

In addition to Interstate 15 being closed between Idaho Falls and Roberts, Idaho Highway 32 between Idaho 33 (near Tetonia) and Idaho 47 (near Ashton) was closed Monday afternoon, but had since reopened. Both roads had been closed because of blowing dust, high winds and reduced visibility.

"The wind kicks up real heavily at a time of the year when the ground is bare. It pulls up dust and spreads it across and makes driving dangerous, especially when visibility can be next to zero," ITD spokesman Bruce King said of the Roberts area along the I-15. "That area, there's a venturi effect thats created on the east of that slope there west of the interstate, so that really intensifies the wind" 

But Monday, the stretch wasn't as bad as expected. King said that's largely thanks to Mickelson Farms. 

"A large area, west of Interstate 15 ... was planted into winter wheat last fall," he said.

Gusts in eastern Idaho are about 60 mph. One viewer in Roberts told Local News 8 that the blowing dust made it hard to breathe.

Transportation officials said they did not know when the I-15 would be open.

The winds also prompted the early closure of the Tautphaus Park Zoo in Idaho Falls, as well as Pinecrest, Sage Lakes and Sand Creek golf courses in Idaho Falls, which were closed due to high winds and downed trees.

We'll post updates on this page as they become available.

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