Welcome to Idaho! Located in the southwest part of the state, Elmore County is a mountainous area with elevations up to 10,651 feet. The county seat and largest city, Mountain Home, is also the home of Mountain Home Air Force Base.
Elmore County has a rich history and offers many historical and cultural attractions, plus modern amenities. Outdoor activities — fishing, rock climbing, hiking, golfing, sailing, snowmobiling and camping — are abundant.
There are also shopping, dining and nightlife opportunities for residents to explore: Annual events and festivals celebrate everything from the Oregon Trail and its Three Island river crossing to the great outdoors and country music at the Mountain Home Country Music Festival.
Elmore County was established in 1889, with its initial county seat at Rocky Bar. It is named after the Ida Elmore mines, the area’s greatest silver and gold producer of the 1860s, in nearby Owyhee County.
The Oregon Trail crossed the treacherous Snake River in Elmore County, at Three Island Crossing near Glenns Ferry. A station on the overland stage route, originally dubbed “Rattlesnake,” was moved west to the railroad line to become Mountain Home. In 1891, the county seat was transferred from Rocky Bar to Mountain Home.
Construction of what would become Mountain Home Air Force Base began in October 1942, 12 miles southwest of Mountain Home. The base officially opened in 1943 as a training base for bombers and was an operational base under Strategic Air Command through 1965. It became a fighter base in 1966 under Tactical Air Command, now the Air Combat Command.
Anderson Ranch Dam is east of Mountain Home on the South Fork of the Boise River. The 456-foot-high dam provides power, water for irrigation, and flood and silt control, and when it was completed in 1950, it was the highest earthfill dam in the world.
WEATHER AND CLIMATE
Elmore County experiences a range of mild temperatures throughout the year. There are an average of 210 sunny days in the county, even if many of those sunny days are below 75 degrees. The fairly high elevation plays a role in the climate, with the area receiving an average annual snowfall of more than 45 inches, 20 inches more than the U.S. average. The county has an average rainfall of nearly 19 inches. Temperatures range from a low of 22 degrees in January to highs above 90 degrees on average in July and August.
Every second counts in a disaster so planning and preparation can be lifesavers. Ready Idaho is Idaho’s official emergency preparedness campaign managed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Ready Idaho gives residents, communities, public safety professionals, businesses and schools valuable information and resources on how to respond to a variety of emergency scenarios. The website provides information on creating an emergency plan and emergency kit, pet preparedness and disaster preparedness for seniors. For more information about disaster preparedness, visit& www.ready.gov/idaho.
The following are considered significant hazards in Idaho.
While Idaho has low figures for annual precipitation, riverine, flash and ice/debris jam flooding are threats. Drought conditions increase the threat of flooding when it rains because the hard-baked earth can’t quickly absorb much water. Rocky terrain also can be poorly absorbent, and dry channels, ditches and lake beds fill quickly. This can lead to flash floods.
A flash flood watch is issued when flash flooding is expected to occur within six hours after heavy rains have ended. A flash flood warning is issued for life- and property-threatening flooding that will occur within six hours. During a flash flood watch or warning, stay tuned to local radio or TV stations or a National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration Weather Radio for further weather information.
If you are outdoors during a rainstorm, seek higher ground. Avoid walking through any floodwaters — even water 6 inches deep can sweep you off your feet. If you are driving, avoid flooded areas. The majority of deaths in flash floods occur when people try to drive through flooded areas. Roads concealed by water may not be intact, and water only a foot deep can displace a vehicle. If your vehicle stalls, leave it immediately and seek higher ground. Rapidly rising water can engulf a vehicle and sweep it away.
Some exposure to sunlight is good, even healthy, but too much can be dangerous. Broad-spectrum ultraviolet radiation, listed as a known carcinogen by the National Institute of Environmental Health Science, can cause blistering sunburns as well as long-term problems like skin cancer, cataracts and immune system suppression. Overexposure also causes wrinkling and premature aging of the skin.
Cloud cover reduces UV levels, but not completely. Depending on the thickness of the cloud cover, you can still burn on a cold, overcast day, so be prepared with sunglasses, sunscreen, long-sleeved garments, wide-brimmed hats and an umbrella. Elmore County’s higher elevation also increases the risk of sunburn.
While more likely at certain times of year, thunderstorms can happen anytime. A severe thunderstorm can knock out power, bring high winds, lightning, flash floods and hail, and turn into a twister in seconds, though tornadoes in Elmore County are rare. Pay attention to storm warnings. Remember the rule: “When thunder roars, head indoors.” Once inside, avoid electrical appliances and plumbing fixtures, and use only a cordless telephone in an emergency. Unplug your desktop computer. Do the same with other plugged-in electronics or use surge protectors. The National Weather Service recommends following the 30/30 Rule: People should seek shelter if the “Flash-to-Bang” delay — length of time in seconds from the sight of the lightning flash to the arrival of its subsequent thunder — is 30 seconds or less, and remain under cover for 30 minutes after the final thunderclap.
For more safety information, visit the National Weather Service’s website at www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov.
All areas of Idaho are vulnerable to severe weather. A severe storm results in one or more of the following phenomena: strong winds and large hail, thunderstorms, tornados, rain, snow or other mixed precipitation. Typically, severe storms impact Idahoans by reducing visibility and making roadways unsafe to drive on and can knock out powerlines, resulting in a loss of utilities. A small amount of rooftop snow also can act as an insulator during cold winter months but an excessive amount can cause structural damage to a home or result in a total roof collapse. Find the tools and information to drive safe during the winter months by visiting the Idaho Transportation Department’s winter safety campaign at http://itd.idaho.gov/road-mtce.