The National Weather Service is cautioning recreationists to avoid a number of trails in the Sun Valley area.
The NWS office in Boise has issued an avalanche warning for the areas of Soldier, Smokey, Boulder and Sawtooth mountains.
"New snowfall and strong winds have produced unstable snow and avalanches are likely on steep, snow-covered slopes and gullies in the mountains,” wrote the NWS. “It will be possible for slides to reach exposed roadways and trails. Avoid travel and recreation in avalanche terrain. Be aware of sloping terrain, and avoid avalanche path runout areas."
A spokesman for the Sawtooth Avalanche Center added that moderate to strong winds, coupled with one-and-a-half to three feet of new snow triggered the avalanche warning. The avalanche center said the warning was extended for mountains around Fairfield, Stanley and Galena Summit.
Meanwhile, a 21-year-old Brigham Young University student was killed Feb. 8 when she was caught in an avalanche while snowshoeing in Utah's American Fork Canyon. Rescuers said the student was buried in the avalanche for about 40 minutes before she could be pulled out. She was rushed to a Provo hospital but died a short time later. Utah officials reported at least 14 avalanches in the region over the weekend.
UPDATE: Feb. 7, 2014 11:30 a.m.
The Ada County Highway District says northbound ParkCenter Boulevard remains closed near the Park Boulevard bridge following an early morning water line break. Northbound traffic on ParkCenter is being diverted east down Beacon Street, and onto Broadway Avenue and then north to Park Boulevard.
Crews from United Water are on the scene and they estimate it will take approximately 6 hours to repair the broken water line. C&A Paving is supply asphalt for United Water's repair and Capital Paving will be restoring that part of the road. The repairs are anticipated to last at least through Monday, Feb. 10, and possibly longer.
Meanwhile, motorists are being cautioned to avoid the area where Park Boulevard, Clearwater Lane and Front Street intersect through Monday, Feb. 10, or until the lane has been repaired and reopened.
ORIGINAL POST: Feb. 7, 2014 9 a.m.
A so-called "Pineapple Express" is dumping a ton of moisture on the Pacific Northwest this morning, including Idaho, and while the much-needed precipitation is far from calming the fears about a significant shortfall in the region's water tables, it still created quite a mess for commuters Friday morning.
Ada County Highway District plows and sand-spreading trucks worked all night in an attempt to get ahead of the early morning conditions on area roadways. Parts of Ada County received between two and five inches of snow overnight, with the biggest accumulations reported in the Boise Foothills and in areas north of Eagle and Star. Portions of Payette, Weiser, the Magic Valley and Wood River Valley got significantly more snow.
ACHD reports that it deployed some 50 pieces of equipment, mostly trucks equipped with de-icer and sand to tackle bridges, intersections, hills and near schools.
But many of the region's schools decided to call it a "snow day" well before sunrise, beginning with Idaho's two largest districts, Boise and Meridian.
Dozens of schools throughout Southwest Idaho canceled classes today, including Anser Charter, Bishop Kelly High, Compass Charter, the Emmett School District, the Foothills School of Arts and Sciences, the Fruitland School District, Giraffe Laugh Daycare, the Montessori Academy, North Star Charter, the New Plymouth School District, Riverstone International, Rolling Hills Public Charter and Village Charter.
Meanwhile, the morning rush hour was that much more challenging Friday morning after a water main broke near Boise's Parkcenter Bridge. Boise Police blocked off the bridge at Park and Parkcenter due to the break.
Boise Police officers reported that Friday's morning's commute would probably take at least twice the normal time just within the city limits.
But it didn't take long for the region's ski resorts to quickly send out tweets and update their Facebooks with a "powder alert," reporting significant amounts of new snow at the bases and summits.
Idaho's "Avalanche Alley" is set to be closed later today, the second time the stretch of state Highway 21 has been closed due to weather this season. The road was closed through much of the weekend of Jan. 10-12 after snow slides.
The Idaho Transportation Department announced earlier today that the 12-mile stretch of Idaho 21 between the Grandjean Junction and Banner Summit would be closed as an avalanche-safety precaution, beginning at 6 p.m. Feb. 7. The area received more than eight inches of snow overnight and heavy snowfall is expected to continue through much of the weekend.
"Avalanche Alley" accounts for 90 percent of avalanches on Gem State highways. ITD reports an average of 45-50 slides each year and more than 250 inches of snow on average.
A treacherous mix of snow, ice and rain defined the Treasure Valley morning commute today, with sections of Interstate 84 and U.S. Highway 95 closed for brief periods of time due to slide-offs and wrecks.
A winter weather advisory for snow and freezing rain remains in effect until 5 p.m. today, as a glaze of ice and freezing rain is expected to hamper the afternoon commute as well.
A number of the region's school districts decided to cancel or delay classes Wednesday, including the Adrian, Baker, Homedale, Marsing, Nyssa, Parma and Vale school districts. Additionally, Mountain Home Air Force Base alerted its personnel that it was on a two-hour delay this morning.
The National Weather Service Office in Boise is forecasting more freezing rain through the night and a mix of snow and rain for Thursday and Friday, with temperatures near freezing. The true highlight, however, is Saturday's forecast, which calls for mostly sunny skies and a high of 36 degrees. More sunshine is expected Sunday as well.
Eastern Idaho officials say a snowmobiler is lucky to be alive after being buried in an avalanche in southern Bear Lake County.
This morning's Idaho State Journal reports that a joint effort by rescue teams from Bear Lake and Utah's Cache counties rushed to the Beaver Creek area when an avalanche buried a snowmobiler who had been sledding in the remote area in the afternoon hours of Jan. 11.
The victim had to be hoisted up a 1,100-foot ridge during the rescue, and officials said he suffered two broken femurs and a broken arm in the avalanche.
Meanwhile, the Journal reports that conditions are ripe for more avalanches, with blizzard and high-wind warnings continuing into Sunday. Island Park, Driggs, Ashton, St. Anthony, Dubois, Montpelier, Georgetown, Paris, the Bear Lake area, the Grays Lake area, Swan Valley, Soda Springs, Lava Hot Springs, McCammon, Arimo and Downey, are all under a winter storm warning.
The National Weather Service has issued a blizzard warning for the Central Idaho mountains, including Sun Valley, Stanley, Hailey, Mackay and Challis.
There's good reason why it's called "Avalanche Alley." A 12-mile stretch of Idaho State Highway 21 between Banner Summit and Grandjean Junction includes nearly 60 spots where nearly 90 percent of all avalanches onto Idaho highways occur. In a typical winter, approximately 250 inches of snow fall on the area.
And due to this week's winter storm and warming trends for the coming weekend, the Idaho Transportation Department has closed Avalanche Alley until further notice.
ITD estimates that nearly 45 to 50 slides happen along Avalanche Alley each winter.
ITD officials said they'll evaluate the roadway for changing conditions, but travelers shouldn't plan on using the roadway anytime soon.
The snow started falling in the Treasure Valley shortly after 10 p.m. Jan. 7. By sunrise, a number of communities around the region reported as much as 5 inches of snow had fallen.
A rash of collisions marked the morning commute, including a bad two-car crash on Interstate 84 near the Flying Wye at approximately 8:30 a.m. Another injury crash was reported near the Flying Wye near Franklin Road around 7 a.m.
Compass Charter School in Meridian was the only school in the region that reported a two-hour delay of classes. While scores of school buses crawled through the pre-dawn mess, classes were reported to be on time at the majority of Boise and Meridian schools.
Ada County Highway District crews worked throughout the night and morning with 50 pieces of equipment spraying de-icer, sand, or both.
"We've got all of our plows out, and the (road) graders," said ACHD supervisor Clint Heckenlively early this morning. "It's still snowing and we're at 28 degrees. We want to make sure what's open stays open. The way it's snowing, it's going to drop another inch."
Sand and salt were being used around intersections, on bridges, overpasses and hills to provide some extra traction.
Most of the region's ski resorts have launched their seasons, but officials at McCall's Brundage Mountain are still anxiously waiting for more snow before they open. The summit depth at Brundage was reported to be 28 inches this morning, but no new snow had fallen over the weekend.
"We hope to make an announcement very soon, but still need several more inches of snow in the base area," reads the Brundage homepage.
Brundage officials said "there is great snow coverage on the top, but the bottom-quarter of the mountain is real thin."
There have been only two times in Brundage's 52-year history that the mountain hasn't been open for Christmas.
Brundage opened Dec. 30 in 2011, the second-latest opening date; the latest was Jan. 8, 1977.
A check with the National Weather Service Office in Boise shows that there's a 40 percent chance of snow for McCall this Wednesday, Dec. 18, a 70 percent chance of snow Wednesday evening, and a slight chance of snow for next weekend.
Following a series of sub-freezing punches to the gut, the Treasure Valley was hit with an uppercut of snow overnight, coating the region's thoroughfares and triggering a frantic search for shovels, ice scrapers and snow tires.
A winter weather advisory remained in effect through the morning as the National Weather Service office in Boise reported an upper level low pressure system pushed snow across Eastern Idaho and Southern Idaho. Westerly winds were clocked as high as 25 mph and a wind chill warning, meaning dangerous wind chill readings were likely, remains in effect through tonight and into Sunday.
Ada County Highway District maintenance crews worked throughout the overnight hours Friday and Saturday, applying de-icing treatments to major arterial roads, intersections and bridges.
"It's always better to get out in front of the weather than to try and play catch up," said Paul Daigle, ACHD's deputy director of maintenance. He added that if the snow was unusually heavy, ACHD would use sand and salt to maintain traction.
ACHD has a 50-vehicle fleet dedicated to winter maintenance, including trucks outfitted for de-icing, sanding, salting and plowing. ACHD services more than 2,260 miles of local streets in Ada County. State highways are managed by the Idaho Transportation Department.
But the worst may be yet to come. The National Weather Service is predicting that tonight's low temperatures will hover around 2 degrees below zero in the Treasure Valley. The forecast for the next several days is sunny and cold, with highs in the 20s, lows in the teens and wind chills dropping to as low as 10 degrees below zero.
One of the region's largest seasonal employers, Bogus Basin, is holding a job fair today.
Bogus officials say they'll be hiring approximately 300 seasonal employees when the snow starts flying. The job fair is slated for 3 p.m. until 7 p.m. at the Bogus Basin office at 2600 Bogus Basin Road.
Currently, Bogus says there are openings for the following positions: auditor, bartender, bus driver, cashier, cook, day care attendant, mechanic, janitor, lift operator, ski instructor, parking lot attendant, plow driver, sales clerk and snowboard instructors.
You can also access a job application by clicking here.