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Blizzard Era Bell forces closure of Interstate 29

Cars make their way through blowing snow on on 42nd Avenue North in Grand Forks on Sunday afternoon. Blizzard Era Bell brought wind gusts close to 50 mph to the Grand Forks area and low visibility even while driving in town. Photo by Tu-Uyen Tran / Grand Forks Herald. 1 / 2
John Robertson, 79, plays with his dog Matilda, 6, at the dog park at Grand Forks' Lincoln Drive Park on Sunday afternoon. Blizzard Era Bell brought winds of about 35 mph, bringing wind chill down to 34 below. But Robertson, bundled up against the cold, said he brings his dog out to the park twice a day and hasn't missed one this winter. Photo by Tu-Uyen Tran / Grand Forks Herald.2 / 2

Update 2:29 p.m. Jan. 26, 2014: Interstate 29 has been closed from the Canadian border to the South Dakota border, the North Dakota Department of Transportation has announced.

It warned that drivers who go past a road closure device may be fined as much as $250.

Most of eastern and central North Dakota and parts of northwestern Minnesota near the North Dakota border are now under a no-travel advisory as Blizzard Era Bell roars in from the northwest.

In the Grand Forks region, U.S. Highway 2 has been closed between East Grand Forks and Crookston, and Minnesota Highway 11 has been closed between the North Dakota border and Karlstad.

The National Weather Service's blizzard warning continues until midnight. There's little snow falling on the North Dakota side of the border, but heavy winds gusting up to 50 mph is picking up snow from Saturday night. On the Minnesota side, the weather service is reporting heavy snow in Crookston and Hallock, among other places.

In Grand Forks, the airport's weather station reported 36 mph winds with gusts of 44 mph around noon. Visibility was a quarter mile or less.

In Devils Lake, the wind was blowing at 39 mph with gusts of 44 mph around 12:30 p.m. Visibility was a quarter mile or less.

In Crookston, the wind was blowing at 38 mph with gusts of 46 mph ar 12:30 p.m. Visibility was 0.15 mph.

Things appear worse west and south where the North Dakota Department of Transportation has closed Interstate 94 from Fargo to Bismarck and U.S Highway 83 from Bismarck to Minot.

In its updated weather statement, the National Weather Service maintains that Blizzard Era Bell will likely be the most severe of the season.

As temperatures drop tonight, wind chills could drop to 50 degrees below zero and continue into Tuesday morning.

Following its tradition, the Herald named the blizzard Era Bell after UND alumnae Era Bell Thompson. She served as editor of Ebony magazine, received the North Dakota Roughrider Award in 1976 and had the multicultural center on the UND campus named after her.

More info: To check road conditions in North Dakota, click here. To check road conditions in Minnesota, click here. For the National Weather Service, click here.

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