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I-29, Highway 2 back open as Blizzard Finley passes through

The interstate has reopened fully shortly before 6 p.m., but a travel alert remains in place

Thermometer on snow shows low temperatures - zero. Low temperatures in degrees Celsius and fahrenheit. Cold winter weather - zero celsius thirty two farenheit
Thermometer on snow shows low temperatures.
MarianVejcik/Getty Images/iStockphoto

GRAND FORKS — Strong winds on Friday moved into northeast North Dakota and northwest Minnesota, part of a blizzard that is unlikely to bring much snow but one that has stopped travel in the region.

The blizzard prompted hazardous travel conditions, closing portions of Highway 2 and Interstate 29 for some time. Shortly before 4 p.m. Highway 2 reopened from Devils Lake to Grand Forks. The interstate reopened fully shortly before 6 p.m., but a travel alert remains in place.

Also, UND and Grand Forks Public Schools closed for the day because of the weather. There are no classes in East Grand Forks Friday — a previously planned closure that was not related to the weather.

Although the National Weather Service on Thursday declared a blizzard warning for the region — to take effect at 3 a.m. Friday for the Devils Lake area and 6 a.m. for the Grand Forks area — conditions just before sunup weren't as ugly as expected.

WDAY meteorologist Jared Piepenburg, during an early morning broadcast, said to prepare for the storm's arrival nonetheless.

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"It may seem kind of quiet out there for the I-29 corridor and eastern North Dakota as we're waking up," he said during a 6 a.m. Friday broadcast. "But strong winds over north-central and northeastern North Dakota are already starting to rev up."

Wind gusts in Rolla were surpassing 50 mph, WDAY reported at 6 a.m., and moving past 40 mph in Devils Lake. Visibility in rural areas near Rolla, Langdon and Devils Lake was less than a mile.

After daybreak, the winds began picking up in Greater Grand Forks, too. At 8:30 a.m., it was eerily sunny in Grand Forks but a steadily increasing wind from the northwest portended what was expected to come later in the day.

The highest chances of accumulating snow will be in northwest Minnesota, but likely to be around 1 to 2 inches.

The Herald has named the storm Blizzard Finley, in honor of young Finley Evenson, born last year in Grand Forks and the daughter of TJ and Lynn Evenson, of Bottineau. Lynn Evenson is a former Herald employee and now works for the newspaper in Bottineau, the Courant. Finley is the niece of longtime Herald and Forum Communications Co. employee Lori Weber Menke.

Saturday, look for a high near 25, but with high winds – upwards of 44 mph in Greater Grand Forks – local wind chills will fall to around minus-28, according to the National Weather Service. There is a chance of snow and freezing rain (less than a 10th of an inch, most likely) late Saturday night/early Sunday morning. The chance of precipitation is 50%.

Sunday, there is a 20% chance of snow, with a high near 16 and winds around 20 mph. Sunday night, temperatures could fall to around minus-15.

Following are weather-related announcements sent to the Herald or WDAY:

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  • Grand Forks County Offices and the Grand Forks County Courthouse are closed Friday.
  • UND and Grand Forks Public Schools are closed for the day. At UND, essential personnel are still asked to report for work.
  • In Grand Forks, Head Start and Early Childhood Special education classes are closed.
  • All Grand Forks Public Schools after-school activities are called off for the day.
  • The Grand Forks City Landfill is closed Friday. Crews will pick up city routes to the best of their ability Friday. If your garbage is not picked up as scheduled on Friday, crews will come Saturday morning to pick it up. The Grand Forks City Landfill will reopen for regular hours (8 a.m. to 11 a.m.) on Saturday.
  • Altru Health System announced that Yorhom Medical Essentials Devils Lake is closed for the day. Also, clinics in Erskine and Greenbush closed at 10:30 a.m. for the remainder of the day.
Related Topics: WEATHER
What To Read Next
Such a forecast would be nearly impossible because wind over land is much more turbulent than wind over water.
WDAY's StormTRACKER meteorologists are tracking the storm. Check back for updates.
Winds gust beyond 40 mph throughout the region. Although the storm was downgraded overnight from a blizzard to a winter advisory, Herald names the storm Blizzard Caitlin.
Some people believe that wind chill is just hype and that only the temperature and wind speed should be reported.