Blizzard hits southwest N.D., causes whiteout conditions
DICKINSON, N.D. — After a blast of arctic air sent wind chills to a reported 51 degrees below zero in Dickinson over the weekend, southwest North Dakota encountered blizzard conditions that descended on the area Monday morning and created “near-whiteout conditions” by mid-afternoon.
Light snow began blowing as winds increased around noon Monday and southwest North Dakota was placed under a blizzard warning by the National Weather Service through 11 p.m. MST. The warning encompassed the southwestern counties of Stark, Adams, Billings, Bowman, Dunn, Grant, Golden Valley, Hettinger, McKenzie, Sioux and Slope.
About 3:20 p.m. Monday, the North Dakota Department of Transportation issued a no-travel advisory for the areas surrounding the cities of Dickinson, Beach, Belfield, Bowman and New England because of blowing snow causing whiteout conditions. A travel alert was issued for the areas around Killdeer, Richardton, Hettinger and Beulah, and was later extended to include the northwest North Dakota cities of Watford City, Williston, New Town, Tioga and Stanley.
National Weather Service meteorologist Bill Abeling said it appeared the storm, which he called a “ground blizzard,” would subside late Monday, possibly around midnight.
“This is a rapidly moving system sweeping through the Northern Plains,” Abeling said.
Sgt. Chris Messer of the North Dakota Highway Patrol said when conditions get like they did Monday afternoon, he urges motorists to stay home unless driving is a necessity.
“With the wind, visibility will be an issue,” Messer said. “Plus, you pair the blowing snow with the below-zero temperatures and that’s even worse. If people don’t have to go anywhere, don’t. If people do need to go somewhere, they should make sure they have a winter survival kit in the vehicle and tell someone where they’re going. Cellphones, of course, are always good to have as well.”
Blowing snow in the Williston area caused icy patches on roadways and areas of no visibility, said Sgt. Jamie Huschka of the North Dakota Highway Patrol.
Troopers in the Williston area were responding to two crashes about 4:30 p.m., including one that blocked Highways 2 and 85 south of town.
The Department of Transportation warned motorists across the state to be wary of compacted ice and black ice along roadways, told drivers to refrain from using cruise control, and urged them to be knowledgeable of road conditions by dialing 511 for travel updates.
Reporters Amy Dalrymple and Dustin Monke contributed to this article.