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Blizzard Alivia tops 13 inches, keeps going

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Will, left, and Collin Rohrich work together to clear a neighbor's driveway in the southend of East Grand Forks Tuesday during blizzard Alivia. More than 10 inches of snow had fallen in Grand Forks and East Grand Forks overnight. photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald2 / 5
Derick Bernier shovels the snow in front of his business on University Avenue on Monday night in Grand Forks. The storm system started fast and furious Monday evening. After blasting the region with more than 10 inches of snow overnight, the wind is expected to kick up this morning, creating dangerous blizzard conditions throughout northeast North Dakota and northwest Minnesota.(Joshua Komer / Grand Forks Herald)3 / 5
Monday evening and early this morning may have looked like a winter wonderland, but meteorologists say don't let it fool you. Blizzard Alivia was packing a one-two punch. More than 10 inches of snow blasted the region overnight, and winds were quickly picking up speed Tuesday morning, making travel extremely dangerous. (Joshua Komer / Grand Forks Herald)4 / 5
Collin Rohrich clears a swath of wet snow as he and his brother, Will, clear a neighbor's driveway in East Grand Forks Tuesday. photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald5 / 5

Grand Forks’ first snowstorm of the season dumped more than a foot of snow with little sign of letting up Tuesday evening as blizzard conditions blasted the Red River Valley.

“We expect the snow to continue, and we expect increasing winds,” said Tom Grafenauer, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Grand Forks.

Winds were howling about 30 to 50 mph early Tuesday morning in the Devils Lake area. Those winds moved west into the Red River Valley as the day progressed.

Meteorologist Bill Barrett said winds were reaching 35 mph in Grand Forks around 2:30 p.m., which could create zero to a quarter-mile of visibility, the threshold that creates an official blizzard. A blizzard warning was in effect for North Dakota and parts of northwest Minnesota until 9 a.m. Wednesday, a 15-hour extension from morning projections.

At the storm’s peak for heavy snow -- from about 9 p.m. to midnight Monday -- up to 2 inches fell per hour in the northern Red River Valley, Grafenauer said.

As of 6 p.m. Tuesday, Grand Forks had received 13 inches of snow, according to official counts from the weather service. The snow is expected to continue with flurries and light snow showers throughout this morning, with additional accumulations of 1 to 3 inches. Winds could continue to produce white-out conditions, making visibility near zero.

Meteorologists expect snowfall to range between 13 and 18 inches in the northern Red River Valley.

The Herald has dubbed the storm Blizzard Alivia, named after UND volleyball player Alivia Fraase, and she shut down the town all Tuesday.

Closures stack up

The blizzard closed multiple businesses, city and government offices in the region, including area schools, UND, the Grand Forks Public Library, Altru Health System offices and county offices, including in Ramsey and Grand Forks counties.

The Grand Forks trash pickup schedule also was shifted because of weather. The city’s landfill closed, and garbage and recycling collection is canceled for the day as well. Residential recycling resumes Wednesday with the week’s regular schedule pushed back one day. That means Tuesday’s pickups will happen Wednesday, Wednesday’s on Thursday and so forth.

Garbage collection resumes for commercial properties and apartments resumes Wednesday. residential garbage collection will see the Tuesday A route run Wednesday and the Tuesday “B” route Thursday alongside normal pickup schedules.

Travel not advised

The North Dakota Department of Transportation closed Interstate 29 from Fargo to the Canadian border. Interstate 94 was closed from Dickinson to Fargo outside the Bismarck metro area. NDDOT also closed U.S. Highway 2 between Devils Lake and the Grand Forks International Airport Tuesday afternoon, citing blizzard conditions.

The Grand Forks County Sheriff’s Office advised no travel in the county Tuesday. The NDDOT advised no travel for most of North Dakota.

Across the river, East Grand Forks police issued a no travel advisory within city limits, with officials calling a snow emergency.

“Conditions are very poor in town and life threatening in the open country,” East Grand Forks Police Chief Michael Hedlund wrote in a press release.

East Grand Forks canceled its City Council meeting for Tuesday night.

It’s uncertain if and when closed roads will reopen Wednesday.

Crashes

East Grand Forks Police Officer Jason Schnathorst said there was at least one accident at U.S. Highway 2 and Minn. Highway 220 shortly after 10 a.m. that did not cause major injuries.

A semi-truck hauling cattle rolled Tuesday morning on U.S. Highway 2 near Larimore, N.D., causing the road to be temporarily closed as officers removed the vehicle from the median, according to Sgt. Andy Schneider with the sheriff’s office.

In Grand Forks County, deputies said several cars were in ditches Tuesday morning.

“Every road I’ve been on this morning is bad,” Schneider said.

Emergency dispatchers continued to take calls on blizzard-related crashes throughout the day.

Flights canceled

The blizzard also caused problems for airports in the state.

Ryan Riesinger, executive director of the Grand Forks International Airport, said morning Delta Airlines flights that departed Tuesday morning were the final commercial flights of the day, with the remaining ones to and from Minneapolis being canceled. He said Delta was concerned about visibility in the region during the day.

“Obviously, we’re battling the snow right now, and the winds are the biggest concern going forward,” Riesinger said.

Flights to and from Denver at the Devils Lake Regional Airport appeared to remain on schedule, according to United Airlines. Fargo’s Hector International Airport shut down its airline flights Tuesday.

 

Herald reporter April Baumgarten contributed to this report.

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