Roadways are open after double dose of blizzards ends 2010Roads have been plowed and mostly are clear across the region, but icy conditions still causing accidents. Interstates closed for two days in eastern North Dakota and western Minnesota were opened by 9 a.m. Sunday.
By: Stephen J. Lee, Grand Forks Herald
The major highways in eastern North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota were opened Sunday morning after being closed Friday and Saturday by a double blizzard that stranded hundreds of vehicles in frigid conditions across the region. But icy conditions were causing accidents, one that resulted from swerving around stranded vehicles in Norman County.
By 9 a.m. Sunday, Interstate 29 in North Dakota and Interstate 94 from Jamestown, N.D. to Alexandria, Minn., once again were open, with “seasonal” amounts of ice and snow on the road surfaces, said the transportation departments in both states. U.S. Highway 2 between Devils Lake and Crookston also opened Sunday.
Snowplows moved fast Sunday and many rural county roads also were plowed by Sunday afternoon and after two days and more of being housebound, people began regular traffic again.
But roads weren’t perfect, and two accidents in northwestern Minnesota showed why.
Minnesota DOT officials said the major highways, including U.S. Highway 2, are in "fair" condition. But Minnesota highways in southern Minnesota are not as fair, although they are open.
A Crookston man and woman escaped injury when the car they were in rolled near Fertile, Minn., early Sunday.
Ryan Melsa, 30, told the Patrol that the 2009 Kia Spectra he was driving at 1:30 a.m. Sunday on state Highway 102 about two miles north of Fertile hit ice and rolled. Melsa and his passenger, Ashley Melsa, 25, had no apparent injuries, the Patrol said. The two-lane black top road was icy at the time, said the Patrol.
A Grand Forks man was one of two people slightly injured in a two-vehicle accident on U.S. Highway 75 near Perley, Minn., in Norman County Sunday afternoon. The State Patrol said Tyler Vossler, 23, of Sioux Falls, S.D., was driving a 1995 Buick Century southbound about 2:10 p.m. Sunday, when he swerved to go around two parked vehicles, lost control, going sideways, and was rear-ended by a southbound 1998 Jeep Cherokee driven by Dennis Hiemenz, 59, Clearbrook, Minn.
Peter Abrahamson, 20, of Grand Forks, had to be extricated from the Buick and had minor injuries. Vossler also had minor injuries.
Two passengers in the Jeep, Marjorie Hiemenz, 54, and John Hiemenz, 22, - whose addresses weren’t known Sunday – had no apparent injuries and neither did their driver.
Fire and rescue teams from Perley, Halstad and Hendrum responded to the accident on the two-lane blacktop that was icy at the time, said the Patrol.
Blizzards Casey and Dave Thursday through Saturday dropped from four to 14 inches across eastern North Dakota and western Minnesota. It took all day Saturday to complete the rescue of hundreds of people from stuck vehicles, mostly on or slightly off I-29 and I-94, often by drivers who went around closed gates to travel.
Authorities said drivers should use caution as some spots remain icy.
Winds diminished Sunday and visibility was good under sunny skies, a big change from nearly continuous white-out conditions during the double blizzard event.
Temperatures, however, went lower, down to near 20 below by Sunday evening in Grand Forks, making winter travel still fraught with possible danger.