BILLINGS — With the weekend forecast for Montana, heavy snow and winds could damage power lines.
Preparation can help if the power goes out, according to NorthWestern Energy.
The utility is anticipating the possibility of tree and power line damage, and crews are ready for power outages.
"We work closely and monitor forecasts from the National Weather Service, which is forecasting a historic winter storm, which will impact much of Montana and our service area beginning tonight," said Jo Dee Black, NorthWestern's public relations specialist. "To be proactive, we've been preparing all of our equipment across the service territory and alerting personnel."
The storm is forecast to dump up to a couple feet in central and western Montana, although Billings is expected to see only a couple inches.
Northwestern also sent out some winter storm safety tips:
- Non-electric, unvented space heaters can be a hazard. Use them only in well-ventilated areas.
- If you use an electric generator, plug appliances directly into it. Never plug a generator directly into your home's electrical wiring.
- Disconnect or turn off appliances you were using when the power went off. Leave one light on to tell you when service is restored.
- Avoid opening refrigerators or freezers. Food will stay frozen in a fully loaded freezer for 36 to 48 hours if the door is closed. In a half-full freezer, food will keep 24 hours.
- Stock up on non-perishable foods, heating fuel and medications.
- Fill your bathtub and spare containers with water in case your electric water pump or the local water system goes out.
- Have a flashlight, a battery-powered radio and fresh batteries handy.
- Prepare older family members, friends or neighbors who live alone for the weather.
- NorthWestern Energy reminds customers to make sure natural gas meters, as well as furnace and appliance vents, are free from snow and ice. Blocked vents could result in a loss of heat or buildup of deadly carbon monoxide in homes and other structures. Some furnace vents may be located on roofs.
- Safety starts with you, don’t take the risk of going into bad weather.
- NorthWestern Energy posts updates on outages on Facebook and Twitter, (@NWEinfo), and on the NorthWestern Energy Outage Map, where you can sign up for text updates on an outage.
- Use a flashlight. Avoid candles because of the fire risk.
- Never use wet or damp electrical items