Blizzard Fred prompts closure of interstates and roads throughout eastern North Dakota

For a list of closures and announcements, check below.

Interstate 29 I-29 closed gate Hylden road.jpg
This Herald file photo shows a gate across an entrance to I-29, alerting motorists that the interstate was closed due to inclement weather.
Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

GRAND FORKS — At least 10 inches of snow has fallen on the immediate Grand Forks region, winds are expected to pick up and roads throughout eastern North Dakota have closed.

A treacherous spring snowstorm, named Blizzard Fred by the Grand Forks Herald, has moved into the region. Although snow is expected to taper off Wednesday, high winds are likely to follow.

According to WDAY, Grand Forks has received at least 10 inches of snow from the storm so far. Other snowfall amounts throughout the region include 11 inches at Michigan, North Dakota; 9 inches in Thief River Falls; and 6 inches in Roseau, Minnesota. Those totals are from Tuesday, and not current as of daybreak Wednesday.

"The thing is, though, even as the snow is wrapping up (Wednesday), the strongest of the wind has not even gotten to us yet," WDAY meteorologist Lydia Blume said during the station's Tuesday morning broadcast.

Throughout Wednesday, winds likely will gust to 40 mph and possibly even 50 mph, she said.


The North Dakota Department of Transportation has closed Interstate 29 from the U.S.-Canada border to the South Dakota border. Also, Interstate 94 is closed from Bismarck to the Minnesota border and U.S. Highway 2 is closed from Devils Lake to Grand Forks. A number of other roads are closed in eastern North Dakota, as well.

In northwest Minnesota, roads are not technically closed, but that state's Department of Transportation is advising no travel in an area that includes Hallock, Thief River Falls, East Grand Forks, Crookston and Ada.

The Polk County (Minnesota) Sheriff's Office is urging people to stay off the roads.

"With the heavy snowfall throughout the overnight hours and into the morning, the road conditions have continued to deteriorate. Ice, snow and limited visibility have created hazardous driving conditions," said a media release from the department. "Deputies are reporting drifting and blowing snow, causing reduced visibility in open areas."

The statement said motorists should just stay home.

"Do not attempt to travel," it said. "If you are planning to avoid our warnings, please be sure you have a charged cell phone and warm clothing. We may not be able to get to you right away."

According to the National Weather Service, the "heaviest snowfall will be done with by daybreak Wednesday, (with the) exception being around Lake of the Woods, where up to 6 additional inches is forecast. ... As snow tapers off elsewhere, look for northwest winds to increase into the 35 to 45 mph range in gusts. Blowing and drifting snow today open country."

The Herald has named the storm after Fred Wittmann, who on Jan. 3 retired as director of ceremonies and university events in UND’s Division of Marketing and Communications. He worked at UND for five decades.


Below are local closures announced so far:

  • UND will be closed through Thursday. The closure includes the Memorial Union and the Student Wellness Center. UND will reopen at 8 a.m. Friday. Non-essential personnel should not report to work during the closure.
  • Grand Forks public schools and Grand Forks Air Force Base schools will hold remote learning days on Wednesday. The district asks patrons to check voicemails and the website for more information.
  • The Grand Forks County Office Building and Courthouse will remain closed through Wednesday. Buildings will reopen at 10 a.m. Thursday, depending on weather and travel conditions.
  • Tuesday's Grand Forks County Commission meeting was canceled. An Administrative Services Committee meeting also is canceled.
  • CVIC offices — including the rural advocate in Larimore — will be closed from noon Tuesday until 10 a.m. Thursday, April 6. If you need immediate assistance, please contact the 24/7 crisis line at (701) 746-8900.
  • Grand Forks city offices are closed on Wednesday. Employees who are able to work remotely will do so.
  • The Grand Forks Public Library will remain closed all day Wednesday, April 5.
  • In East Grand Forks, residential refuse/recycling pickup scheduled for Wednesday will be delayed until Thursday, April 6. As of Tuesday afternoon, the city's website said "at this time this is the only delay so refuse/recycle pickup for Wednesday and Thursday will be done on Thursday, April 6th." Also, there is no delay for Friday residential refuse and recycle pickup. Please watch the city website for updates to possible schedule changes to refuse and recycling pickup.
  • The city of East Grand Forks declared a snow emergency that took effect at 12:02 a.m. on Wednesday. The emergency shall remain in effect until all streets have been cleared to their full width. During a snow emergency there is no parking allowed on city streets. Vehicles parked on the street during a snow emergency are subject to ticketing and towing.
  • A special meeting of the East Grand Forks School Board, planned for Tuesday evening, has been postponed. An official meeting notice will be posted once a new date is determined.
  • In Grand Forks, Wednesday's residential garbage and recycling pick-up is canceled due to the weather. Both garbage and recycling crews will pick up Wednesday’s routes with Thursday’s and Friday’s route. Also, the Grand Forks landfill will be closed on Wednesday.
  • Grand Forks Cities Area Transit will be delaying bus service until 10 a.m. on Wednesday due to the weather. This includes both fixed route and Dial-A-Ride services. Cities Area Transit will resume service after 10 a.m. Wednesday as the weather allows.
  • The Grand Forks Herald's print edition likely will not be distributed via the United States Postal Service on Wednesday. The Herald asks readers to visit the newspaper's e-edition or website for the latest information about the storm.
  • East Grand Forks schools are having virtual learning on Wednesday.
  • Altru Health System has closed its clinics and outpatient services for Wednesday. Some services will remain open, however, including the Express Clinic at Altru Professional Center (opening at 10 a.m.), Altru Cancer Center (opening at 10 a.m.) and MyChart video visits. Also, any surgeries and procedures scheduled for Wednesday will continue unless otherwise notified. Patients also have the option of using Altru's emergency department at the hospital, which remains open 24/7. In the event of an emergency, please call 911.
  • East Grand Forks' residential refuse/recycling pickup scheduled for Wednesday will be delayed until Thursday. At this time, this is the only delay, so refuse/recycle pickup for Wednesday and Thursday will be done on Thursday. There is no delay for Friday residential refuse and recycle pickup. Please watch the city website for updates to possible schedule changes to refuse and recycling pickup.
Korrie Wenzel has been publisher of the Grand Forks Herald and Prairie Business Magazine since 2014.

Over time, he has been a board member of the Grand Forks Region Economic Development Corp., 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.
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