Frigid weather; NWS: Stutsman County under blizzard warning until noon today
Stutsman County and most of North Dakota is under a blizzard warning until noon today, with an arctic air mass moving down from Canada today that will plunge most of the nation into a deep freeze for the next four to five days.
The National Weather Service office in Bismarck issued a blizzard warning for Stutsman County and the surrounding area that started at 6 p.m. Friday. Blizzard conditions developed across western and central North Dakota Friday night, with northwest winds gusting up to 50 miles per hour. The high winds paired with a possibility of up to one inch of snow falling in the same time period will create near zero visibilities, making travel difficult, according to the NWS warning.
As of 6:30 p.m. Friday the temperature at the Jamestown Regional Airport was 36. By noon today, the high temperature is expected to be minus 2.
Most of the state experienced freezing rain Friday afternoon that mixed with snow in the evening, as winds switched from the southwest to the northwest. The freezing rain created hazardous driving conditions Friday afternoon across the northern half of North Dakota and the south central and southeast sections of the state.
Stutsman County Sheriff Chad Kaiser said travel conditions were “horrible” all across Stutsman County Friday afternoon and evening. He advised no travel in Stutsman County, joining sheriffs in Griggs, Foster, Wells, Pierce, McHenry and Divide counties who issued similar travel advisories.“There is not one area that is worse than the others, they are all bad,” he said Friday. “It’s bad, you can’t stand up on the roads, even the gravel roads.”
Kaiser said his deputies and all state and local law enforcement agencies in and around Stutsman County were busy as vehicles were having difficulty getting around on ice-slickened roads.
Jamestown Police Chief Scott Edinger said Friday afternoon he had heard a lot of reports of cars in ditches due to the icy conditions. Sanders were called out as the conditions worsened Friday night.
“I’m sure we’ll have a few accidents,” he said.
Daryl Ritchison, WDAY meteorologist, said any new snow that was to fall in the Jamestown area should have stopped by midnight. But, the winds were forecasted to pick up Friday night, blowing steady from 24 to 29 mph, then increasing to 31 to 36 mph overnight into today.
“The winds should calm down between 4 to 6 a.m. (today),” Ritchison said.
The temperatures will continue to fall throughout today and into tonight. The low for Saturday into Sunday is minus 23 with wind chill values down to minus 45 and a northwest wind of 11 to 16 mph that includes gusts up to 24 mph.
Ritchison said while minus 23 is extremely cold, having some wind Saturday night into Sunday should keep Jamestown from getting into the minus 30 range.
“When it’s still and there is no wind, that is when you get the extremely cold temperatures like we saw on Thursday,” he said.
Sunday the high temperature will be minus 17 with wind chill values as low as minus 55 with a northwest wind steady from 11 to 16 mph, increasing to 19 to 24 mph in the afternoon with gusts up to 36 mph.
Ritchison said Sunday through Tuesday will be the coldest stretch in the coming week, with highs expected Monday and Tuesday in the minus teens and lows in the minus 20s. Wednesday the forecast is for a high of 6.
“By the end of next week, we should see highs in the 20s above (zero). You shouldn’t have to say ‘above,’ but we do right now,” he said.
Sun reporter Chris Olson can be reached at 701-952-8454 or by email at email@example.com