Storms leaves slippery roads, blackouts in RRVHeavy snow brought slippery roads, low visibility and power outages to the northern Red River Valley Thursday morning. The Minnesota State Patrol blamed the near-blizzard conditions for the head-on collision that killed a woman in the Thief River Falls area. Residents in various parts of the valley lost power for several hours early in the morning.
By: By Kevin Bonham and Brandi Jewett , Forum Communications, The Jamestown Sun
Heavy snow brought slippery roads, low visibility and power outages to the northern Red River Valley Thursday morning.
The Minnesota State Patrol blamed the near-blizzard conditions for the head-on collision that killed a woman in the Thief River Falls area.
Residents in various parts of the valley lost power for several hours early in the morning.
Preliminary numbers from the National Weather Service indicated 1 to 4 inches fell in eastern North Dakota, from Pembina to Fargo. Grand Forks received 3.5 inches.
Northwest Minnesota received heavier snow, from 1 to 8 inches in most places. Areas near Badger, Minn., received 12 to 14 inches.
The weather service’s winter storm warning remained in effect until 1 a.m. today for the northern Red River Valley and until 10 a.m. farther east, though the agency expected snowfall to taper off Thursday night.
“We might see a flurry or some raindrops but most of it will hit east of us,” said Vince Goden, a meteorologist with the weather service’s Grand Forks office.
Winds of 20 to 30 mph, with higher gusts, were expected to continue this morning.
Visibility was reduced to near whiteout early Thursday morning with blustery winds driving a mix of rain and snow. The accumulating slush made roads hazardous.
In northeast North Dakota, the state issued travel alerts, urging drivers to stay off the road unless they must drive. In northwest Minnesota, there were no travel advisories.
Outside of Grand Forks, there were multiple reports of vehicles in ditches. A section of Belmont Road, a key north-south route in town, was temporarily blocked after snow caused big branches to snap off of trees.
In the Thief River Falls area, Madonna Lallier, 63, of Plummer, Minn., died on state Highway 59 when her northbound PT Cruiser collided head on with a southbound Dodge Ram pickup, according to the state patrol.
Lallier was taken to Sanford Hospital in Thief River Falls, where she was pronounced dead. Elwin Ness, 54, of Middle River, Minn., was treated for non-life-threatening injuries at Sanford.
The state patrol is still investigating, but it says slippery roads may have contributed to the accident.
The snow also caused problems for those staying indoors, cutting off power in several communities.
“Wet, heavy snow is sticking to the lines,” said Dan Schaefer, Nodak Electric Cooperative’s line superintendent. “With the weight on it, it’s pulling lines down.”
About 2,000 Nodak customers in a band from Lankin, N.D., to Mayville, N.D., lost power about 2 a.m., according Schaefer. By 9 a.m., all but 400 customers had power again. The co-op aimed to have all power restored by Thursday night.
Xcel Energy did not report any major outages in the northern valley, according to spokeswoman Judy Paukert.
A city official in Larimore, N.D., served by Xcel, said the city did lose power for about 75 minutes Thursday morning. The power came back on by 10 a.m., but classes in Larimore School District were cancelled.
In other school districts, classes were also cancelled or delayed.
The University of North Dakota didn’t cancel classes and students had mixed reactions to the first snow of the season.
Atmospheric science student David Nordel, 19, has lived in six other states, but said he wasn’t worried about the upcoming North Dakota winter. “I have an Astrostart so my car will be just fine.”
Andrea Dove, a 22-year-old geology student, was less than thrilled with the snow’s appearance. “It needs to go away. Now.”
Thursday’s snowstorm follows above average temperatures earlier in the week. The nearly 50-degree change in temperature from Monday’s high of 80 to Thursday’s high of 32 did not go unnoticed by the students.
“Well, at least we got a week of fall before winter hit,” Nordel said with a shrug.