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Icy roads cause crashes after freezing rain moves through area

Freezing rain Sunday caused numerous accidents on Interstate 94 from Spiritwood to Medina, according to law enforcement agencies.

Lt. Bruce Judd, Jamestown Police Department, the shift supervisor at the Law Enforcement Center dispatch Sunday afternoon, said roads became more slippery midafternoon as a weather system with freezing rain moved from west to east across southern North Dakota. Judd said area law enforcement, ambulance services and tow truck providers were busy most of Sunday afternoon and evening. He said there were numerous reports of accidents along Interstate 94 from the Spiritwood area west in the Medina area.

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“People need to be careful out there driving tonight,” he said Sunday.

North Dakota Highway Patrol Sgt. Tom Herzig said from about 2:30 p.m. Sunday into early that evening at least 20 accidents occurred on I-94, 19 of which were handed by the patrol. There were two serious injury crashes, Herzig said, and one person injured in one of those crashes was transported to Bismarck.

The NDHP SE Region issued a press release that said all of the crashes involved a driver losing control and either entering the ditch or median and striking a fixed object or completely crossing the median and striking a vehicle traveling the opposite direction. Of the crashes covered by the patrol, 15 were property crashes and four were injury crashes. The injured parties were transported to hospitals in Jamestown, Bismarck and Fargo depending on where the accident took place. None of the injuries was believed to be life threatening, according to the patrol.

Herzig said drivers needed to slow down as the highway continued to be slick from the freezing rain earlier on Sunday.

Jamestown Police Lt. Robert Opp, the shift supervisor at the Law Enforcement Center dispatch Sunday evening, said sander trucks were sent out in the city starting around 5 p.m.

“The roads are icy, but passable,” he said.

Only one accident was reported in Jamestown as of 7:50 p.m. Sunday, a minor collision near the 1-94/U.S. Highway 281 overpass. Opp said no one was injured in the accident.

The National Weather Service office in Bismarck issued a winter weather advisory from 6 a.m. today through 6 a.m. Tuesday for west and central North Dakota. The NWS in Bismarck also issued a winter storm watch for Tuesday morning through Wednesday morning for the same area.

NWS Meteorologist Bill Abeling said freezing rain is expected through Monday in the western part of the North Dakota and could extend to the Jamestown area.

There was a 70 percent chance of a snow/sleet mix Sunday night into today, with a possible accumulation of about a half inch by this morning.

The NWS forecast called for an 80 percent chance of snow today with 1 to 2 inches of new accumulation possible. The high was expected to be around 33.

Abeling said a “significant” weather system sitting off the west coast of Canada will move east today across the Northwest part of the U.S., including Montana and North Dakota. This system will bring snow and blowing snow through the day Tuesday and into the evening. Winds from 10 to 17 mph are forecast with gusts up to 25 mph Tuesday, then increase Tuesday night with winds steady between 18 to 25 mph and gusts up to 36 mph.

The snow and windy conditions will continue into Wednesday, Abeling said. Coming in right behind the storm system will be unseasonably cold Artic air. The high Tuesday will be 26 and will then fall throughout the day. The low on Tuesday night will be 9 and will stay in the single digits for most of Wednesday.

Abeling said the Jamestown area could see temperatures between 30 and 35 degrees below normal in the latter part of the week.

“Our normal highs this time of year is around 30 degrees,” he said. “The high for Thursday is minus 1, for Friday is minus 4 and for Saturday is minus 5.”

The low temperatures at night will range from minus 6 on Wednesday to minus 15 on Friday and Saturday night.

Sun reporter Chris Olson can be reached at 701-952-8454 or by email at colson@jamestownsun.com

Chris Olson

Hometown: Traverse City, MI College: Northwestern Michigan College and Michigan State University

(701) 952-8454
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