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A Jamestown police officer directs traffic Monday as a school bus approaches an intersection where a Chevrolet Suburban drove off the street and down an embankment during a spring blizzard. Photo by John M. Steiner/The Jamestown Sun (John M. Steiner/The Sun)

Updated: Region shuts down with blizzard’s blast

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People should go home and stay there for the duration of the blizzard buffeting the region, officials at the city, county and state levels say.

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Due to near-zero visibility even in town, the city of Jamestown pulled its plows from the streets this afternoon and Interstate 94 has been closed from Bismarck to Fargo.

“Stay home if you can, and tomorrow, just watch the weather again,” said Chad Kaiser, Stutsman County sheriff. “If you don’t need to travel out in this stuff, don’t travel.”

After a morning of bitter winds, the snow struck Stutsman County starting around 10 a.m., gradually intensifying after that while the wind continued to blow.

“Basically, visibility is down to virtually nothing, and the internal defrosters and stuff in the equipment is not keeping up. You can’t see,” said Reed Schwartzkopf, city engineer. “So we pulled everything off the road.”

At this time, city plows will be responding to emergency situations only and coordinating with emergency services to ensure people can get to Jamestown Regional Medical Center and other emergency destinations as needed.

“It’s a ‘no travel advised’ out there anywhere in the area, and we knew it was coming … but I’d love everybody to just go home,” Schwartzkopf said.

City officials still plan to begin snow removal in downtown Jamestown at 11 p.m. today.

Downtown businesses have been asked to move snow off sidewalks and into the street no later than 9 p.m. today.

Residential snow removal is still slated to begin at 11 a.m. Tuesday and continue during normal working hours. Because of the weather conditions, snow gates used to prevent snow ridges at the end of driveways are being removed.

Schwartzkopf said the North Dakota Department of Transportation Valley City district had informed him it had pulled its plows from the highway as well.

A travel alert has been extended by the North Dakota Department of Transportation and North Dakota Highway Patrol for southeast North Dakota, including Fargo, Wahpeton, Lisbon and Wyndmere. Travel alerts also remain in effect for areas south of Bismarck, including Flasher and Selfridge.

No travel advisories remain in effect for Bismarck, Steele, Center, Napoleon, Linton, Jamestown, Valley City, Edgeley, Ashley and Ellendale as well as Carrington, Devils Lake, Langdon, Grand Forks and Drayton.

NDDOT snow plows have been working since early morning and throughout the day, but have been pulled at this time from rural areas around Bismarck, Jamestown, Valley City, Devils Lake, Grand Forks and north of Fargo. If conditions don't improve, plows will resume operations early tomorrow morning when it is safe.

Roads may become blocked overnight, particularly at bridges and sheltered areas, officials warned.

Interstate 29 has been closed from Fargo to the Canada border, and U.S. Highway 2 has shut down from Devils Lake to Grand Forks. NDDOT and the NDHP closed the major highways due to zero visibility and snow-covered roads, it said in a release this afternoon.

Motorists are not allowed to travel on closed roads due to the life-threatening conditions, and any motorist who drives past a road closure device may be fined up to $250.

“We’re kind of of the opinion that the town is shut down,” Schwartzkopf said. “… it’s pretty nasty.”

Closures, cancellations

A variety of closures, cancellations and delays have already been announced:

* The Jamestown Sun will not have home delivery of its newspaper Tuesday morning due to the Interstate being closed. Papers will be delivered as soon as possible, and subscribers will be able to access the newspaper through a link on the Sun's website at www.jamestownsun.com.

* Jamestown Public Schools dismissed at 1 p.m. All planned school activities have been canceled.

* The University of Jamestown closed at noon.

* The University of Jamestown/Valley City State University Job & Internship Fair in Valley City scheduled for tomorrow has been canceled, and people are encouraged to apply directly with employers at www.uj.edu/participating-employers.

* Alfred Dickey Library closed at noon, and the meeting of the James River Valley Library System Library Board scheduled for 4 p.m. today was canceled.

* The Public Service Commission meeting slated for 9:30 a.m. tomorrow in Ellendale has been moved to 1 p.m. at the Fireside Restaurant in Ellendale.

* The Buffalo City Tourism Marketing Committee meeting has been postponed to noon tomorrow at the Tourism Office.

* Jamestown City Hall offices closed at 3 p.m.

* Stutsman County facilities closed at 1 p.m., including the Stutsman County Courthouse, Law Enforcement Center, Social Services, Road Department, North Dakota State University Extension and the Stutsman County Park Department.

* Coborn's will close at 6:45 p.m. today.

The Jamestown Police Department and North Dakota Highway Patrol remain open, and all essential services will continue operation throughout the storm event.

Sun reporter Kari Lucin can be reached at (701) 952-8453 or by email at klucin@jamestownsun.com

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Kari Lucin
Kari Lucin joined the Jamestown Sun as a staff writer in July 2011. Previously, she worked for about six years at the Daily Globe in Worthington, Minn., as an online content coordinator and staff writer. A graduate of Jackson County Central High School and Augsburg College, she has a bachelor's degree in philosophy and English. At the Jamestown Sun, Kari is a general assignment reporter, but most typically covers the Stutsman County Commission and the James River Valley Library System. Find more of her writing at her blog, Oh Look, a Shiny Thing!
(701) 952-8453
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