by Jay Wintermeyer
SPOKANE, Wash., November 18, 2015 - A near hurricane-force storm pounded Spokane and much of the Inland Norwest Tuesday afternoon through Wednesday morning, uprooting and felling hundreds of trees and causing building damage to Upper Columbia Academy and some minor property damage and downed power-lines at the Upper Columbia Conference office.
As the storm hit Tuesday afternoon, the gale-force winds were so strong Spokane County emergency management leaders asked all residents to shelter in place. By three p.m., the storm grew so strong, Upper Columbia Conference made the decision to send staff home for their safety.
Throughout the remainder of Tuesday evening, the storm raged and pummeled the region, knocking power out for more than 206,000 people, including the UCC office and parts of the UCA campus. According to local power company officials, this storm caused more damage than the previous record 1996 ice storm.
Wednesday morning, UCA faculty reported some trees down on campus. One went through an eave on one faculty home, but the roof itself is still intact. Other structures on campus did not fare as well.
The girl's dorm roof suffered damage as well as the music building roof. The campus greenhouse, a source of fresh vegetables for the students, had all the plastic shredded. The maintenance staff pulled it off to prevent further damage to the framework.
"We're thankful our students and staff are safe," said John Winslow, UCA principal. "Classes are running on schedule today. We're working to assess the extent of the damage and determine what needs to be done."
As of 10 a.m. Wednesday, two-thirds of faculty homes on campus did not have power. This outage was not limited to the Spangle, Wash. campus. More than 100,000 customers were still without power Wednesday morning. Avista officials said it will take days to restore it all.