Blizzard Casey comes firstA huge swath of North Dakota and Minnesota currently is under a blizzard warning from the National Weather Service. Several major roads have been closed and travel is dangerous, not advised and nearly impossible in spots across the region with wind chills near 30 below.
By: Stephen J. Lee, Grand Forks Herald
Blizzard conditions blanketed a huge swath of North Dakota and Minnesota on Thursday, causing injury accidents and forcing authorities to close major highways.
And the forecast doesn't show much of a break until into the New Year.
Early Thursday afternoon, the National Weather Service issued a blizzard warning for eastern North Dakota and western Minnesota until 6 a.m. this morning.
Much of the region was in a blizzard warning Thursday night, and under a blizzard watch into Saturday. The area of concern extends south from the Canadian border on both sides of the Red River through Grafton and Grand Forks, east to Thief River Falls and Bemidji, and south through Fargo into South Dakota. It extends as far west as Jamestown and as far east as Detroit Lakes and Fergus Falls in Minnesota.
Surrounding areas are in a winter storm warning or winter weather advisory.
The weather service said as much as 5 inches of snow fell last night from Minot to Devils Lake and north to the cities of Langdon and Cavalier in North Dakota and Hallock in extreme northwest Minnesota. Lesser amounts fell in Grafton, N.D. and Roseau, Minn.
The Herald has named this blizzard after WDAZ-TV reporter Casey Wonnenberg. The Herald has a tradition of naming blizzards in our readership area, which is considered primarily from Devils Lake to Bemidji and the Canadian border to Hillsboro, N.D.
Dangerous road conditions
With below-zero temperatures by dark and winds gusting to 40 miles per hour, wind chills plunged to almost 30 below, making travel difficult and dangerous. Authorities closed interstates across most of the region and advised against all travel in eastern North Dakota and much of western Minnesota. Among the area's closed roads Thursday night:
U.S Highway 2 between East Grand Forks and Crookston; Interstate 94 between Jamestown, N.D., and Alexandria, Minn.; and Highway 10 between Moorhead and Detroit Lakes.
This morning Interstate 29 was still closed between Grand Forks and the South Dakota border and I-29 north of Grand Forks was open, but no travel was advised.
Interstate 94 between Fargo and Jamestown, which was shut down after a major pileup accident Thursday, remained closed this morning.
Highway 2 reopened between East Grand Forks and Crookston this morning. Other parts of Highway 2 were open, but no travel was advised between Grand Forks and Lakota, N.D.
Highway 10 reopened this morning between Moorhead and Detroit Lakes in Minnesota.
In Minnesota, the Department of Transportation was giving most highways east and southeast of Moorhead a "difficult" rating, the worst of three road conditions, on Thursday night.
About 2 p.m. Thursday afternoon, a semi-truck apparently jackknifed on the high railroad bridge just south of the Buxton, N.D. The accident sent two to Altru Hospital in Grand Forks, backed up traffic for almost a mile, and shut down the southbound lanes.
A multiple vehicle pile-up on Interstate 94 west of Fargo stopped traffic for hours and sent two people to the hospital.
North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple late Thursday afternoon proclaimed a statewide winter storm emergency, triggering the state's emergency operations plan that can include calling National Guard troops to help.
Power outages, accidents
The storm knocked out electricity in several southeast North Dakota towns Thursday night. Armenia, N.D., was without power as of press time late Thursday night; crews were working to fix it but were delayed by the severe weather, said Otter Tail Power Co. spokeswoman Cries Kling.
Mapleton and rural Casselton had no power for almost three hours Thursday afternoon while transmission lines were repaired, but power has been restored, Kling said.
Xcel Energy has reported no major outages.
After a lull this morning, an even stronger storm is expected to move into the region this afternoon, creating blizzard conditions over most of eastern North Dakota and western Minnesota.
The storm is expected to bring another 6 to 9 inches of snow to some areas. Winds tonight will gust from 30 to 45 mph, making travel difficult and dangerous.