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Southwest N.D. hit by late April snowstorm

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DICKINSON, N.D. -- A late April snowstorm swirled into southwest North Dakota on Monday morning, leaving 2 to 6 inches in Stark County and annoying commuters.

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The snow caused no major trouble for local law enforcement. A few minor accidents occurred on Interstate 94 and some vehicles slid off the road in Dickinson, said Capt. Dean Franchuk of the Stark County Sheriff’s Office.

But, Stark County Roads Superintendent Al Heiser imposed a limit of 12,000 pounds total for vehicles traveling on unpaved county roads. The limit may be lifted on Wednesday as conditions improve.

Heiser also said 34th Street, from North Dakota Highway 22 to 112th Avenue SW, had to be closed because of potholes.

Stark County Emergency Services issued a no-travel advisory for vehicles to stay off the roads between 2 a.m. and 8:30 a.m., when snow fell hardest. Light flakes fell through the afternoon, even as snow on the ground began to melt with rising temperatures.

Residents in Grassy Butte in McKenzie County reported 7 inches, while those in Adams County reported about 5, National Weather Service meteorologist Bill Abeling said. Richardton residents reported as low as 2 inches.

Abeling said that he expects 1 to 2 more inches overnight by Tuesday morning, in addition to more rain as the week progresses.

“It certainly won’t be dry,” Abeling said.

Temperatures will gradually rise from the mid-40s on Tuesday to the mid-50s on Thursday, he said.

Stark County Emergency Services Director Bill Fahlsing said he did not expect to issue any travel warnings for Tuesday.

Historically, April snowstorms are far from unusual, and can rival the worst of the traditional winter season.

The 1980s represents the most destructive recent decade for such storms. On April 28, 1984, more than 17 inches of snow was recorded at the Dickinson airport, Abeling said.

In early April 1987, more than 12 inches fell in a crippling blizzard that affected all of Dickinson. Massive April storms that accumulate more than 15 inches of snow in the area happen only every 10 or 20 years, Abeling said.

While wiping snow from her windshield, retiree Enid Neumiller of Carrolls Mobile Home Court on Bonnie Street said she remembers much worse April snowstorms. She likes to mark especially bad storms on her calendar and recalled the 1987 snowfall with a grimace.

Still, it’s not like it used to be.

“We don’t get the snow we’d get in the 1930s or 1940s anymore,” Neumiller said. “It used to go up all the way to your roof.”

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