Jamestown area expected to see 5 to 9 inches of snow Feb. 21-23
Two storm systems were expected to move through the Stutsman County area this week.
JAMESTOWN – Two storm systems expected to move through the Stutsman County area this week could drop 5 to 9 inches of snow, said Corey King, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Bismarck.
King said one system was expected to work its way through Tuesday, Feb. 21, before another one impacts the area Wednesday into Thursday, Feb. 22-23.
“The second one is more or less a large Colorado low-type of system,” King said. “Mainly, a lot of it is going to be to the south of here when it comes to the highest snowfall totals from that, but obviously we are going to see impacts up here in North Dakota as well.”
The National Weather Service in Bismarck issued a winter storm watch Tuesday morning, Feb. 21, for Burleigh, Dickey, Emmons, Kidder, LaMoure, Logan, McIntosh, Sioux and Stutsman counties. The winter storm watch was in effect through Thursday morning, Feb. 23.
King said the Jamestown area was expected to get 2 to 4 inches Tuesday and another 3 to 5 inches Wednesday through Thursday. He said the snowfall totals Wednesday through Thursday could vary from north to south. For example, Carrington could see about 1 to 3 inches of snow, Jamestown is expected to get 3 to 5 inches, and areas near the South Dakota border could see 5 to 7 inches of snow.
Wind chills could get as low as minus 40 to minus 45 Wednesday through Friday depending on the location with the higher winds expected, King said. He said temperatures are expected to get back into the high teens on Saturday and into the 20s on Sunday.
Visibility could be reduced with the snow mixed with expected strong winds, he said. Wind gusts could be as high as 45 mph, according to the Weather Service's winter storm watch.
“You could see some areas with potentially blizzard-type conditions out there especially when you combine round one, round two, and the strong winds that we are looking at for Wednesday night into Thursday,” King said.
He said the high winds could continue through Thursday morning, but wind speeds could gradually reduce on Thursday afternoon.
Stutsman County Sheriff Chad Kaiser said visibility can go from being somewhat fine to nothing in a matter of a second.
“People get stuck in that or they slow down and they get rear-ended by somebody else,” he said.
If motorists get into a situation where the roads are really bad or they can’t see, he said they should not stop in the traffic lanes.
“Try to pull off onto the side of the road,” he said. “You will have less chances of getting hit on the side of the road than stopping in that lane of traffic especially if visibility is bad. We get a lot of accidents where they just stop right in the middle of the road and right in that lane of traffic and somebody will come up behind them and get into an accident.”
Kaiser said motorists can use turn hazards or flashers so other drivers can see the vehicle in areas of reduced visibility.
With the combination of expected high winds mixed with snow, Interstate 94 could be closed, but Kaiser said some motorists take alternate routes to try to reach their destinations. He said I-94 is plowed during a snow event several times in a day but alternate routes may only be plowed once in an entire day.
“Then, they (motorists) try to take those alternate routes and they are already plugged and blocked,” he said.
He said the Stutsman County Sheriff’s Office sometimes uses its mine-resistant-ambush-protected (MRAP) vehicle to respond to calls of vehicles getting stuck. If a vehicle is stuck and blocking the road, the Sheriff’s Office wants to get it opened as soon as possible.
“We will do whatever we have to do to open up the road so we don’t get any more accidents,” he said. “So, we push them off the road so it opens up the road.”
Kaiser said many motorists who take alternate routes when I-94 is closed are not typically from the area. He said many motorists follow GPS where it takes them on alternate routes from I-94, which gets them into trouble because those roads are in really poor shape during snow events.
Motorists should dress appropriately for the weather conditions, according to Troy Nelson, owner of J&L Service in Jamestown.
When Nelson has to pull vehicles from a ditch, he said he often sees people not dressed appropriately for the weather conditions. He said people should have a blanket, spare clothes, gloves and a winter hat.
“If you knew how many times I pulled over and got somebody that’s wearing flip flops or gym shorts and a hoodie, it’s unbelievable,” he said.
Nelson said if I-94 is closed, motorists should not take alternate routes to get to their destinations.
“It says roads are closed, so they think they can go onto other roads,” he said. “Well, if a four-lane highway is blocked because of snow and wind, what do you think a two-lane highway is next to a farmyard with a shelterbelt with 20- to 30-foot-tall trees? It’s going to be worse. People just don’t seem to comprehend what it means.”
If motorists are traveling in poor weather conditions, they should make sure their phone is charged, Nelson said. He said they should have a backup battery charger. If motorists don’t have a battery charger, he warned motorists to not sit on their phone and drain the battery if somebody is going to help them.
“Make sure your battery is charged, so if someone is trying to call you to locate you, you can actually answer the phone,” he said. “Don’t sit on the phone after you made calls to somebody to come get you. Stay off the phone so you can answer it.”