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Slide closes Interstate 80

Weekend power outages affect Colfax, Weimar
By: Gloria Beverage, Colfax Record Editor
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Last weekend’s storm dumped more than six inches of rain in Colfax, reported weather expert Mike Crum of Alta. “This is the wettest December since 2005,” he said. “We have had almost 24 inches of rain in Alta. We’re ahead of last year’s totals.” According to Crum’s weather reports, more than 20 inches of rain has hit Colfax to date. Last year’s total rainfall at this time was only 14.57 inches. Weekend winter weather hit both commuters and residents hard. On Sunday, a mud and rock slide forced the closure of westbound lanes on Interstate 80 near the railroad trestle above Colfax, said Todd Kettwig of California Highway Patrol. The slide, which covered most of the highway, was cleaned up by Monday afternoon and the highway reopened. There were six non-injury accidents on Interstate 80 over the weekend, Kettwig reported. It was a different story on Monday as California Highway Patrol officers responded to nearly a dozen non-injury accidents on the eastbound lanes in the Blue Canyon area. “We ask motorists to please slow down and minimize lane changes,” Kettwig said. “And come prepared (for storm conditions).” Most of the foothills’ residents and businesses were in the dark for nearly 2-1/2 hours on Thursday, Dec. 16. A felled tree caused left about 3,600 Pacific Gas & Electric Company customers without power. According to PG&E spokesman Brian Swanson, a 100-foot-tall tree apparently was cut down with a chainsaw and fell through a 60,000-volt transmission line and a 12,000-volt distribution line. As a result, Swanson said, electricity was cut to about 2,500 residents in Colfax, 500 in Alta, 300 in Dutch Flat, 200 in Gold Run, 100 in Grass Valley and about 30 customers in Baxter. The outage occurred just before 3 p.m. and was restored in most areas by 5 p.m. However, another 500 customers remained without power until 10:15 a.m. while PG&E crews finished repairs. A second power outage impacted 1,450 residents in Colfax and another 150 in Weimar on Sunday. A tree falling onto a power line is cited as the cause of the outage, which started around 3 p.m. Power was restored in some areas as early as 6 p.m. and in other areas as late as 3:30 a.m. on Monday. “We always recommend that customers keep a flashlight and fresh batteries available in the case of a power outage, particularly during the storm season,” Swanson said. -- Jenifer Gee contributed to this report. _________ Road conditions on Internet Caltrans has placed a real-time map on GetAcross80.com. Site tracks travel times, traffic speeds, chain restrictions and current message board information. Caltrans has also added a link to the National Weather Service, as well as links to real-time chain control locations and chain installation information to help the public prepare for driving in snowy weather.