Greater Grand Forks wakes up to calm conditions after Blizzard Alan whips through region

Interstate 29 reopened from border to border. East Grand Forks gets 8.5 inches of snow, while Grand Forks received 7.2 inches.

Blizzard Alan
Scott Hamilton puts the finishing touches on digging out in front of his house on 5th Ave. NW in East Grand Forks after the weekend blizzard dumped up to 10 inches of snow in the greater Grand Forks area. Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

As much as 10 inches of snow fell on the Greater Grand Forks region during a weekend blizzard that closed roads and delayed school openings.

In the immediate region, Crookston had the most snowfall, at 10.5 inches, according to WDAY. Larimore received 9.3 inches and East Grand Forks 8.5.

The Herald has named the storm Blizzard Alan, in honor of Alan "Al" Palmer, who died Nov. 16 at the age of 69 from COVID-19 complications. Palmer was a retired brigadier general in the North Dakota Air National Guard who was a leader of the effort to build Veterans Memorial Park in Grand Forks.

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 named blizzards, during the winter of 1996-97.


Other weekend snowfall amounts from communities throughout the region include:

  • Fosston, 8.5.
  • Grand Forks, 7.2.
  • Grand Forks Air Force Base, 7.0.
  • Devils Lake, 7.0.
  • Thief River Falls, 3.6.
  • Cavalier, 3.0.

No further snowfall is expected from the storm.

"We are all done with snow accumulation. There is no more snow falling from the sky. So that's one piece of good news," WDAY meteorologist Lydia Blume said during an on-air segment Monday morning. "Piece No. 2 is that the wind is settling down after gusting to 50 to near 60 mph last night, and picking up that brand new snow and tossing it around and creating the whiteout and blizzard conditions. It is now starting to settle down."

The storm began Saturday, Dec. 4, with most of the snow coming Saturday evening. Sunday, high winds picked up, whipping the snow and reducing visibility to less than a mile throughout the region. It started as a winter storm, but the National Weather Service issued a blizzard warning for extreme northeast North Dakota and northwest Minnesota shortly after 7 p.m. Sunday.

Wind gusts Sunday reached 56 mph in Grand Forks, according to WDAY.

Interstate 29 was closed from the Canada border to the South Dakota border Sunday. It was entirely reopened by 8 a.m. Monday.


Schools throughout the region started late, including public schools in Grand Forks and East Grand Forks; both districts started two hours late Monday. Power was out for an extended time Sunday at many Grand Forks homes.

The outage began around 5 p.m. and affected some of Nodak Electric Cooperative's customers in Grand Forks. Some customers regained power within a couple of hours, but for a few, the outage lasted past 9 p.m.

The outage was caused by an equipment failure at a substation, according to Blaine Rekken, Nodak's member and energy services manager.

Before sunrise Monday, the overnight winds had mostly died down. WDAY reported early Monday that visibility throughout the region had increased to around 10 miles or more โ€“ considerably better than the whiteout conditions from a few hours earlier. At 6:45 a.m., it was minus-8 degrees in Grand Forks, with 10 to 20 mph winds making it feel like minus-27.

However, travel was still considered dangerous Monday morning, as roads were snow-covered and icy.

High temperatures were expected to only reach single digits in Grand Forks Monday. Winds will decrease into the single digits, too.

"This is the coldest morning we have felt so far," Blume said.


Troy Newhouse clears snow away from his garage in East Grand Forks, Monday, Dec. 6, 2021, as a friend snowblows the driveway after the weekend blizzard dumped as much as 10 inches of snow in the greater Grand Forks area. Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

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