Weekend winter blast: Jamestown area hunkers down as storm brings snow and strong windsWell before the snowflakes began to fall, officials charged with roads, streets and airports began preparing to deal with the snow forecast for Friday night.
By: Keith Norman, The Jamestown Sun
Well before the snowflakes began to fall, officials charged with roads, streets and airports began preparing to deal with the snow forecast for Friday night.
The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning Wednesday running through noon on Saturday for a wide area of North Dakota including Jamestown. The forecast included freezing rain, high winds and heavy snow.
“First, you make sure all the resources are available,” said John Thompson, engineer for the North Dakota Department of Transportation in Valley City. “That includes people, equipment, sand and fuel.”
Thompson said state crews started sanding roads at 5 a.m. Friday with a half-sand, half-salt mixture. Those crews were planning to shut down Friday afternoon or evening and begin operating again Saturday morning.
“It depends on what’s happening,” he said. “We’ll get the plows out then if conditions warrant. Right now the plan is for everyone back out early Saturday and we get it all cleaned up.”
Jamestown crews were also spreading sand and salt Friday.
“We put down sand at the special request of law enforcement or as the street department sees a need,” said Reed Schwartzkopf, city engineer.
Schwartzkopf said city snow plows would begin clearing the snow emergency routes at 5 a.m. Saturday and move into the residential areas beginning at 11 a.m. The crews plan to begin clearing snow from the downtown business areas starting at 11 p.m. Saturday. That plan is subject to change depending on the storm’s activity Friday night.
Matt Leitner, manager of the Jamestown Regional Airport, said his crews were also sanding one runway.
“When weather is an issue we close down the secondary runway and concentrate on the primary runway,” he said. “We use only washed sand so there is no corrosives on the runway to get on the aircraft. We test the runway friction with a precision instrument. This tells the pilot how well his brakes will work during landing.”
Jamestown Regional Airport announced that two flights had been cancelled — the Friday evening flight and the Saturday morning flight. The airport also closed early, at 6 p.m. Friday, and will not open until 8 a.m. today, according to Leitner.
All of these weather precautions are in response to a low-pressure system that forecasts have indicated is headed towards the northern plains since Wednesday.
“It’s still coming,” said Corey King, meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Bismarck. “The heart of the system is taking shape Friday afternoon. The bulk of the storm in the Jamestown area will be Friday afternoon to Saturday morning diminishing by Saturday afternoon.”
King said the forecast was indicating the heaviest snow for the James River Basin with 6 to 10 inches possible.
“Even after the storm is gone, wind chills and cold will be an issue,” he said.
Thompson said anyone traveling should have a winter survival kit in their vehicle, drive slower and avoid using cruise control.
“And keep your distance from the snowplows,” he said.
Local residents were stocking up on some of the necessities of life Thursday and Friday before the inclement weather hit.
“We were very busy Thursday,” said Gerald Roemmich, assistant manager for the Hugo’s Store in Jamestown. “It is always the basics. Things like bread, milk, eggs and canned goods that people stock up on before a storm.”
Some people have a different definition of the basics necessary for survival.
“Lots of people stocking up,” said Margie Kratz, manager of Hugo’s Wine and Spirits. “Lots of beer and schnapps. I think they’re looking forward to getting snowed in.”
Sun reporter Keith Norman can be reached at 701-952-8452 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org