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The cold continues; Conditions create problems for sheriffs, first responders

Jamestown is flirting with a rather dubious weather record today, according to Bill Abeling, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Bismarck. The NWS is forecasting a high today of minus 14. This is only a few degrees higher than minus 20, which was recorded as the lowest, high temperature in Jamestown back in 1912.

“That’s a record you don’t want to break,” Abeling said.

The forecasted cold weather prompted Robert Lecht, superintendent of Jamestown Public Schools, to announce the cancellation of Monday classes on Sunday.

Today’s cold weather continues a pattern that has included conditions ranging from freezing rain and sleet Friday to a wind chill advisory in effect from Sunday into Monday. The cold weather and slippery road conditions created problems for law enforcement officers and first responders throughout the weekend.

The Jamestown Fire Department fought a house fire at 1409 3rd Ave. NW Saturday evening, according to Jamestown Fire Chief Jim Reuther.

“It was a tough fire in tough conditions,” he said. “It is tough fighting a fire in the cold. We struggled a bit locating the base of the fire.”

The fire was reported at 6:34 p.m. The occupants were not at home at the time of the fire.

Reuther said 32 firefighters and seven units fought the fire until about 9:40 p.m.

“It appears the floor joists were on fire,” he said. “We ended up foaming the basement and area under the home.”

The home is a total loss, according to Reuther. The occupants of the home received assistance from the Buffalo Valley Chapter of the Red Cross with personal items after the fire.

No firefighters were reported injured in the blaze. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

The slippery conditions created by the weather kept rural officers busy through much of the weekend, according to Chad Kaiser, Stutsman County sheriff.

“Very busy Friday night,” he said. “Sunday, we had a couple of rollovers and a few people in the ditch but it was not as bad as Friday.”

Kaiser said ambulances were dispatched to a couple of the accidents but he was not sure if anyone was injured. The number of accidents won’t be tallied until all reports are submitted to the office today.

Travelers in Jamestown had fewer problems with slippery roads, said Sgt. Justin Blinsky of the Jamestown Police Department.

“Traffic accidents were minimal in the city through the weekend,” he said.

Kaiser urged people to slow down and limit travel in the county if possible.

“Use a lot of extra caution out there,” he said. “One spot may not look too bad and then you came across another spot that is glazed ice.”

Abeling said the cold conditions are likely to continue through today and tonight.

“Actual overnight lows (Sunday night) will depend on the wind,” he said. “But 29 to 30 below is likely given these conditions.”

The record low for Jan. 6 in Jamestown is minus 36 and was recorded in 1909.

Wind chills of minus 40 to minus 60 are possible through Monday, which prompted the NWS to issue a wind chill warning until 6 p.m. today.

“There is a definite moderation of temperatures by Tuesday with highs near zero,” Abeling said. “By the weekend we should see temps into the 20s.”

Those moderate temperatures are likely to last about a week, he said.

“There’s always another cold snap out there,” Abeling said. “There is a big mass of arctic air that could descend upon us about the middle of the month.”

Sun reporter Keith Norman can be reached at 701-952-8452 or by email at knorman@jamestownsun.com

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