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Blizzard Gerald brings high winds to region, reducing visibility — again

By 7 a.m., the Minnesota Department of Transportation had issued a no-travel advisory for numerous roads in the northwest portion of the state.

NWS snowfall feb. 20.JPG
A National Weather Service graphic showing potential snowfall from the latest storm to come into the region.
National Weather Service

GRAND FORKS — Another ground blizzard settled on the Grand Forks region Sunday, reducing visibility and closing roads.

The storm moved into the area overnight and by sunrise, sustained winds of 30 to 35 mph were whipping up snow and causing havoc with travel – especially in rural areas.

Winds were gusting throughout the region and in many areas, there was new light snow on the ground, WDAY meteorologist Robert Poynter said during a 7 a.m. broadcast.

“And with those two things, we have blizzard conditions due to reduced visibility,” Poynter said. “Wind speed, this is a big factor. There are some pretty strong winds right now – 35 mph in Fargo and Grand Forks, and these are not gusts but consistent winds right now.”

Visibility throughout northeast North Dakota was a problem. By 7 a.m., WDAY reported that Langdon, Devils Lake, Grand Forks and Crookston all had seen visibility drop to less than a mile.

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By 7 a.m., the Minnesota Department of Transportation had issued a no-travel advisory for numerous roads in the northwest portion of the state. Highway 2 was closed from Crookston to East Grand Forks early in the morning, but was reopened by 10 a.m.

In a release sent to the media, the department reminded motorists that even if state and federal highways are passable, travel may still be difficult on county, township and municipal roads.

No-travel advisories also were issued for many roads in northeast North Dakota early Sunday.

The Herald has named the storm Blizzard Gerald, in honor of Gerald Sieg, who recently retired from the Grand Forks County Highway Department. Sieg worked for the department for 59 years and among his duties during that time was driving snowplows and managing staff and snow removal on the county's roads.

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.

Blizzard Gerald is the seventh named blizzard in Grand Forks County this season, following Alan, Becca, Chuck, Daphne, Earl and Finley. Blizzard Finley hit the region just Friday, and also featured high winds, low visibility and closed highways.

Of this season’s seven named blizzards – there was one more blizzard in the region, but it didn’t result in a blizzard warning in Grand Forks County – the majority have been ground blizzards, with little snow.

That’s the case with the latest storm as well. The National Weather Service is predicting only a trace to 2 inches of snow in Greater Grand Forks and Thief River Falls, with less than that expected in Devils Lake, Cando, Langdon, Hallock and Roseau.

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However, some portions of Minnesota could see up to 5 or 6 inches of snow, including Fosston, Ada and Bemidji.

Most of the snowfall was expected in Fargo and places farther south.

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