A second punch ahead: Area under blizzard watch; city gets more than 6 inches of snowThe first of two consecutive snowstorms dumped more than 6 inches of snow on Jamestown over the weekend, causing numerous accidents Sunday throughout the region.
By: Kari Lucin, The Jamestown Sun
The first of two consecutive snowstorms dumped more than 6 inches of snow on Jamestown over the weekend, causing numerous accidents Sunday throughout the region.
A blizzard watch has already been issued for the second storm, which could produce 10 inches of snow or more, along with winds of 30 miles an hour.
“We’ll probably look to be seeing conditions deteriorating Tuesday afternoon, and then potential for blizzard conditions late Tuesday afternoon and all the way at least through Wednesday morning, and maybe into the afternoon as well,” said Patrick Ayd, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Bismarck.
Ayd advised people to stay tuned to forecast updates, because the storm — still hovering off the coast of California on Sunday — could change before it reaches the region.
“Travel could be pretty hazardous across much of the Northern Plains,” Ayd added.
The first of two storms
By Sunday afternoon, 5 inches of snow had already fallen at the official gauge at the North Dakota State Hospital. The North Dakota Department of Transportation and the North Dakota Highway Patrol issued a travel alert for central and eastern North Dakota.
Meanwhile, local officials advised against any unnecessary travel in the Jamestown area.
“Just be extremely careful because it’s going to be really icy, and until they get the snow moved they probably won’t be doing much sanding — a little bit, maybe, but not a lot,” warned Lt. Bruce Judd of the Jamestown Police Department, the supervisor at the Law Enforcement Center dispatch.
The plows were out clearing snow away from city streets Sunday afternoon, but the snow had already become a factor in multiple collisions in the area.
Sgt. Josh Rude of the North Dakota Highway Patrol reported that there had been at least a dozen accidents in the 15-county southeast region of North Dakota alone, as well as “countless, countless vehicles sliding off into the ditch.”
The previous night’s snowfall had partially melted and began re-freezing as temperatures dropped early Sunday evening, creating icy driving conditions, Rude said.
A major accident that resulted in two people being airlifted to Sanford Medical Center in Fargo Sunday also had emergency responders racing to determine exactly what material was leaking from an overturned semi truck.
About 300 gallons of the fluid pooled into the ditch, and was contained there with sand, but the Jamestown Fire Department — the hazardous material responders for the region — determined it was not hazardous.
The crash occurred at approximately 1:40 p.m. Sunday at mile marker 226 on Interstate 94 approximately 4 miles west of Medina, according to the North Dakota Highway Patrol.
The patrol’s news release said Christopher Schmit, 29, of Fargo, was driving a 2006 Toyota Tacoma, with Mikki Schmit, 25, also of Fargo, as his passenger.
Schmit was driving eastbound on I-94 when he lost control of his vehicle, crossed the median and entered the westbound lanes of I-94, striking the rear left wheels of a westbound semi-trailer.
The Tacoma spun out in the westbound lanes.
A westbound 2005 Volvo semi truck tractor driven by Mazur Vitaliy, 42, of Wheeling, Ill., crested the hill where it was then struck by Schmit. Both vehicles entered the median.
The semi rolled onto its passenger side and came to rest in the median, partially blocking the westbound and eastbound passing lanes.
Vitaliy was uninjured.
Both Schmits were transported by ambulance to Jamestown Regional Medical Center and then to Sanford Medical Center in Fargo.
Seat belts had been used and airbags deployed in all three cases.
Both vehicles received severe damage.
Jamestown Area Ambulance and Medina Ambulance were dispatched to the scene. The Medina Fire Department and Kidder County Sheriff’s Office also assisted, along with the North Dakota Department of Transportation.
The crash remains under investigation.
The storm’s results
A few minor accidents were reported in town Sunday, but nothing major, said Lt. Robert Opp of the Jamestown Police Department, the supervisor at the Law Enforcement Center dispatch Sunday evening.
Earlier, Lt. Bruce Judd of the Jamestown Police Department, another supervisor at the LEC, said that was likely because people had not been out driving.
In their travel alert release, NDDOT and the Highway Patrol warned motorists that blowing snow was sticking to roads, which would likely continue to create icy conditions through early Monday.
“Motorists should be aware they may encounter areas of blowing snow creating snow drifts, reduced visibility and snow covered roadways,” the release warned. “Motorists are encouraged to reduce speeds and drive according to the conditions.”
NDDOT and the Highway Patrol also advised travelers to be patient, stay at least five car lengths behind any plow, stay alert for plows that must turn or exit frequently and slow to a safe speed for current conditions.
The storm prompted several churches, including Atonement Lutheran Church and some others, to cancel their Sunday services.
“We checked the parking lot and there was so much snow in the parking lot that our custodian got stuck,” said the Rev. Scott Block, pastor at Atonement. “… and we have some elderly, and we didn’t want them traveling.”
Other churches saw lower attendance than usual, as parishioners opted to stay home.
At St. James Basilica, the Rev. Arogyaiah Gadagotti reported that attendance was about 75 to 80 percent of its usual.
The Rev. Randy Jaspers said about two-thirds of the usual crowd turned up for services at Temple Baptist Church Sunday. The church also saw a smaller crowd than expected for its Habitat for Humanity breakfast fundraiser.
“We raised maybe $800,” Jaspers said. “It was down, maybe a little, from what it could have been, but really not too bad.”
Sun reporter Kari Lucin can be reached at 701-952-8453
or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org