Storm shuts down travel in North DakotaWinter weather is taking a toll on New Year’s holiday travel plans with a blizzard socking the area and the state Thursday and a second weather system expected to hit today.
By: By Keith Norman and Toni Pirkl, The Jamestown Sun
Winter weather is taking a toll on New Year’s holiday travel plans with a blizzard socking the area and the state Thursday and a second weather system expected to hit today.
The weather Thursday and forecasted conditions for today led Jamestown city officials to issue a no-travel advisory from 5 p.m. Thursday lasting to 5 p.m. Saturday for the city and the surrounding area. Stutsman County issued a no-travel advisory at 4:20 p.m. Thursday due to zero visibility on county roads.
“We may see a few hours Friday morning of lighter winds and snow,” said Daryl Ritchison, meteorologist for Forum Communications Co., Thursday. “But the afternoon brings us the potential of more snow and strong winds.”
This second storm follows on the heels of Thursday’s blizzard blasting. A travel alert, issued by the North Dakota Department of Transportation Thursday, is in effect for the central portion of the state through Saturday morning.
Thursday’s storm with its zero visibility and glare ice led to the closing of Interstate 94 between Jamestown and Fargo. The DOT also issued a no-travel advisory for all of eastern North Dakota. And late Thursday afternoon, the DOT closed Interstate 29 from the South Dakota border to Grand Forks due to high winds and zero visibility.
DOT snowplows were pulled from the roads at dark Thursday due to zero visibility from Bismarck to Fargo and Wahpeton to Grand Forks. Depending on conditions, the snowplows will go back to work this morning.
Locally, the weather caused the cancellation of the Thursday afternoon and evening and Friday morning Delta flights from Jamestown Regional Airport. Decisions concerning the Friday afternoon and evening flight are anticipated later today.
As conditions continued to deteriorate Thursday, local businesses and agencies closed early. The Buffalo Mall closed its doors at 6 p.m. and many other businesses shut down early as no-travel advisories were issued in the area.
By 5 p.m. Thursday, Gov. Jack Dalrymple had proclaimed a statewide winter storm emergency. A news release from his office said the storm system is “producing freezing rain, ice, heavy snow accumulations and high winds in excess of 45 mph.”
Dalrymple’s executive order makes available state resources including the National Guard for assistance.
Today the National Weather Service is calling for 2 to 4 inches of new snow locally. It will be coupled with winds gusting as high as 40 mph causing blowing and drifting snow.
Jamestown Street Department crews expected to start plowing emergency routes at 5 a.m. today. The city will continue with the emergency routes and spot drifts through the day.
The 24-hour snow removal operations are scheduled to begin at 5 a.m. on Saturday with the emergency routes. Crews will move to the residential areas of Jamestown at 11 a.m. and return to the downtown areas at 11 p.m.
“Jamestown has removed the snow gates from City snow plows today for an indefinite period of time,” said Reed Schwartzkopf, city engineer, in a press release Thursday. “We know this will create some difficulties in our community, but with the large amount of snow we have received this year coupled with the anticipated storm event it will create safety problems for much of our snow removal equipment while trying to use the gates.”
The snow gates limit the snow ridge left by the plows when they pass by driveways or sidewalks.
“We hope to begin using them again as soon as the weather permits,” Schwartzkopf said.