Weather closes Monida Pass

Wednesday, February 27, 2019
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Travel restrictions

Traffic signs diverted I-15 southbound traffic to Dillon Monday night with the closure of Monida Pass. J.P. Plutt photo

A multi-day winter storm forced the closure of Monida Pass Monday night and ushered in an severe weather travel advisory Tuesday morning.

The closures slowed down travel and led local schools to keep children inside.

Beaverhead County Sheriff Paul Craft said both Montana and Idaho sides of Monida Pass decided to close it around 5:52 p.m. Monday night. The county issued emergency driving advisories due to severe driving conditions Tuesday. And the snowy weather was expected to continue through Wednesday.

“We ask people to stay off the roads if they can. If you have to drive, look out for the plows, give them plenty of operating room so they can get done and make the roads safe again quickly,” he said.

Snow piled onto already snowy roads in Beaverhead County, but hit hardest over a short time period Tuesday morning, after students had already come in to school, Dillon School District 10 Superintendent Randy Shipman said.

“When I got to school it was beautiful,” he said. “Then at 7:59 a.m., it was blowing and snowing, and we were under emergency driving conditions.”

Shipman said he keeps in close contact with Beaverhead County High School Superintendent Gary Haverfield, emergency responders and University of Montana Western officials to get a good picture of the driving situation for running buses. And maintenance staff were busy clearing walkways and driveways around school.

School was not canceled as of Tuesday morning, so the students already at school were probably going to have indoor recess, Shipman said. His biggest worry was the road conditions farther out in the county, toward Dewey, Wisdom and Grant areas.

But if the students needed to have extended stays at school, the facility is equipped to handle it, he added.

The university will sometimes open Keltz Arena as an emergency shelter in conjunction with the American Red Cross. Nicole Hazelbaker of the university said as of Tuesday morning, the Red Cross had not yet asked to use the space.

As of Tuesday morning, there had not been a ton of accidents in the county, though there were several slide-offs, Craft said.

Craft wanted to remind drivers to make sure they clean off their cars so they have a 360-degree view out of the windows.

“Nothing is wrong with pulling over to clean the back window,” he said.