FROM THE ARCHIVES: As an April blizzard moves into region, a look back on Blizzard Hannah

This Herald story from April 6, 1997, details the effects from Blizzard Hannah, which added to the severity of the Flood of 1997. Blizzard Hannah hit the region on April 4, 26 years ago.

High piles of snow are shown in this photo, taken before the Flood of 1997. Submitted by Renae Bye.

Editor's note: As an April blizzard moves into the Grand Forks region on Tuesday, April 4, 2023, here is a look back at a story from the Herald files about Blizzard Hannah, which hit on April 4, 1997, and set the stage for the devastating Flood of 1997.

Blizzard Hannah caused a variety of problems as it intensified Saturday, ranging from closed highways to television and radio stations out.

Interstate 29 was closed between Fargo and the Canadian border Saturday night. Interstate 94 was closed from Bismarck to the Montana line and east out of Bismarck. A downed power line stopped traffic on I-94 between Valley City and Fargo.

KXJB's tower blows down: Heavy snow and ice felled KXJB-TV's 2,060-foot transmitter tower three miles east of Galesburg, N.D. at about 6:15 p.m., said Don Schroeder, transmitter station supervisor.

KVLY-TV's 2,063-foot tower in Blanchard, N.D., about five miles northeast of KXJB's tower, was still standing, an employee in the Fargo office said.


KVLY's tower is the tallest structure in the North America.

"It's only three feet (taller than KXJB's)," said Schroeder. "But today, they are 2,063 feet taller."

Schroeder said he didn't know the condition of the tower station because travel conditions were too severe to get to the site.

Schroeder said it's the second time the tower has been toppled. On Feb. 14, 1968, a U.S. Marine Corps helicopter struck the tower, killing all four crew members.

An employee at WDAZ-TV in Grand Forks said the station's tower near Petersburg, N.D., was in good condition.

Radio stations off air: Most local radio stations went off the air at various times Saturday.

Strong winds, snow and ice toppled a section of KKXL's (93 FM, 1440 AM) 400-foot tower north of East Grand Forks.

About 120 feet of the tower is still standing, said Denny Johnson, program director for KKXL-AM. He said the stations would be off the air until further notice.


"All radio stations have experienced problems of some sort," said Brian Lee Rivers, station manager of KJKJ 108 FM in Grand Forks, which also went off the air Saturday.

Jeff Erickson, operations manager at KCNN 1590 AM in Grand Forks said that station went off at about 2 p.m. Sister station K-LITE 104 PM also went off the air at about 4 p.m.

Erickson, who was at the station at 5 a.m. and still there late Saturday, said they hoped to have KCNN back on the air sometime Saturday evening.

Cable out: TCI Cable's power station north of East Grand Forks also lost power. General manager Butch Moteberg said three power poles snapped and generators were in place.

Some channels were back Saturday evening, but Moteberg said some areas will be without cable entirely until power is restored.

Airport woes: Grand Forks International Airport experienced two power outages Saturday, said Gary Baker, operations supervisor.

The first occurred at about 2 a.m. and lasted for about two hours, he said. The second hourlong outage was about 3 p.m.

Several flights were delayed for weather and mechanical reasons, he said.


Baker said for the most part, operations continued as normal. De-icing continued on planes and runways all day. Baker said the airport's new chemical de-icing method was working well.

Baker said he was trying to get another generator for the airport in case of any more outages.

Slip-sliding away: Ice-coated streets, sidewalks and parking lots caused countless broken bones Saturday, according to a nurse at United Hospital. "We've had several broken ankles," said nursing supervisor Margaret Dahl. She said the emergency room had treated people for broken ankles and hips.

To see more archived content from Blizzard Hannah and the Flood of 1997, check out the Herald's Flood Anniversary Page looking back on the historic saga.

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