Winter storm continues to pound the Dakotas with heavy windsBISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Blizzard conditions shut down eastern North Dakota on Monday, while crews in that state, South Dakota and Nebraska continued efforts to restore electricity to 13,000 people.
By: Blake Nicholson, The Associated Press, The Jamestown Sun
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Blizzard conditions shut down eastern North Dakota on Monday, while crews in that state, South Dakota and Nebraska continued efforts to restore electricity to 13,000 people.
Only a few inches of snow was expected, but strong winds were blowing around what was falling and what had fallen late last week. Ice buildup on power lines was also a problem.
About 5,000 people in North Dakota and about 200 in northeastern Nebraska remained without power. Outages were more severe in South Dakota, where about 7,800 people still had no electricity.
As many as 8,000 utility poles were believed to be down in the Dakotas because of ice buildup and strong winds.
``Crews are getting a lot of stuff rebuilt. Then they turn around and ... other stuff is coming down,' said Brenda Kleinjan, spokeswoman for the South Dakota Rural Electric Association. ``Just about every place that had outages is reporting that visibility is making things very difficult, and it's hard to get around.'
No travel was advised in all of North Dakota. Interstate 29 was closed between Grand Forks and the Canadian border and from Watertown, S.D., to the North Dakota border. In northeast Nebraska, some state highways were closed for short stretches, the state Department of Roads said.
Northeastern North Dakota appeared hardest hit, with airline flights and school classes canceled and county offices closed.
The University of North Dakota in Grand Forks was closed for the day, the first time since 2001 that the school has closed due to a storm. An energy research center on campus remained open.
``It's pretty brutal,' UND spokesman Peter Johnson said.
North Dakota State University in Fargo shut down midmorning. Wind gusts of more than 50 mph were reported in eastern North Dakota and a blizzard warning was in effect.
NDSU spokeswoman Najla Amundson said that campus closed due to a storm last March.
More crews were being called in Monday to help restore electricity in South Dakota. Ed Anderson with the South Dakota Rural Electric Association said an additional 600 workers would be available from private contractors and cooperatives in the state and neighboring states.
In North Dakota, Gov. John Hoeven waived driving time restrictions for commercial truckers delivering repair supplies to rural electric co-ops. South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds issued a similar order late last week.
Because of the widespread power outages, Rounds was asking people to check on their neighbors, especially with the National Weather Service forecasting much colder weather in the coming days.
Meteorologist Ken Simosko in Bismarck said arctic air was heading south from Canada, and some areas could see dangerous wind chills overnight Tuesday and Wednesday.
``One thing after another, it seems like,' he said. ``But it's January. In a couple of months it will be spring and the flowers will be blooming.'
Even with relatively mild temperatures over the weekend and on Monday, conditions were tough for electrical crews, said Mark Shults, general manager of the Northeast Nebraska Public Power District.
``The winds are between 25 and 40 mph, the temperature 20 degrees — that just makes working in an elevated bucket 40 feet in the air very slow going,' he said.
Associated Press Writers Wayne Ortman in Sioux Falls and Nelson Lampe in Omaha contributed to this story.