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Blizzard Barry rolls into region; 27th Avenue North closed in Grand Forks until Tuesday

The storm won’t bring much snow — if any — but instead features high winds and terribly cold temperatures.

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A tow truck heads south on Columbia Road near the King's Walk Golf Course during Friday's blizzard.
Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald
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GRAND FORKS – Winds picked up Thursday evening and Friday morning, creating blizzard conditions throughout the region despite a lack of new snow.

The National Weather Service issued a blizzard warning for eastern North Dakota and western Minnesota. The warning was to last through 6 p.m. Friday.

The Herald named the storm Blizzard Barry, for Grand Forks-East Grand Forks Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Barry Wilfahrt. The local Chamber of Commerce, as reported last week by the Herald , recently was given “5 Star” accreditation status — one of just 141 across the nation to reach that level.

The Herald has been naming blizzards since 1990, giving storms alphabetically alternating male/female names in an effort to honor local residents and also to log storms for the sake of history. The Herald generally uses the names of people in the news, famous or mythical figures, or those with connections to the Herald.

The record is eight, during the winter of 1996-97.

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Blizzard Barry won’t bring much snow — if any — but instead features high winds and terribly cold temperatures.

“We’re dealing with what we call a ground blizzard — there’s no new snow falling from the sky. The radar is clean and the nearest snow is over by the Great Lakes,” WDAY meteorologist Lydia Blume said during the station’s broadcast early Friday morning. “We’re not getting any snow whatsoever, but it’s all about the wind blowing around (existing) snow and making it hard to see. That’s what qualifies us for the blizzard warning.”

A few closings were announced, including the closure of the campuses at UND and Northland Community and Technical College. Also closed Friday were Grand Forks County offices and the Grand Forks County Courthouse.

The city has closed 27th Avenue North from North 32nd Street to North 39th Street due the blizzard. The road will be closed until Tuesday, Dec. 27, weather permitting.

The region was under a no-travel advisory Friday morning.

A wind chill warning also was in effect for eastern North Dakota and western Minnesota through noon Saturday, according to the National Weather Service.

Temperatures before sunrise Friday were around minus-8. In a packet sent to the media early Friday morning, the National Weather Service predicted wind gusts through Saturday will be in the high 30 mph to low 40 mph range.

Among the impacts of the storm, according to the National Weather Service, are “dangerously cold wind chills between 35-below and 50-below.” The NWS also said “life-threatening conditions are possible” for anyone who becomes stranded in the storm.

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Blume, on the WDAY broadcast, said conditions in towns won’t likely be as bad as the conditions outside of towns.

“Once you get out of town and away from the protection of the city buildings and homes, that’s when you have those whiteout conditions and blizzard conditions,” Blume said.

She said conditions will be a bit better on Saturday, with moderate travel impacts. It’s the same on Sunday, she said, while Monday should be better.

For the Grand Forks region, look for a high of minus-4 on Saturday and 3 on Sunday, which is Christmas Day. WDAY predicts conditions will improve after that, with highs above zero all week, including 29 on Wednesday.

Read more
StormTRACKER Meteorologist John Wheeler looks at the changing weather patterns.

Related Topics: WEATHER
Korrie Wenzel has been publisher of the Grand Forks Herald and Prairie Business Magazine since 2014.

He is a member of the Grand Forks Region Economic Development Corp. board of directors and, in the past, has served on boards for Junior Achievement, the South Dakota Historical Society Foundation, United Way, Empire Arts Center, Cornerstones Career Learning Center and Crimestoppers.

As publisher, Wenzel oversees news, advertising and business operations at the Herald, as well as the newspaper's opinion content.

In the past, Wenzel was sports editor for 14 years at The Daily Republic of Mitchell, S.D., before becoming editor and, eventually, publisher.

Wenzel can be reached at 701-780-1103, or via Twitter via @korriewenzel.
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