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Truckers fill parking lots in Jamestown as I-94 remains closed

The parking lots at Walmart and Buffalo Mall were full with semitrailers.

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Semitrailers were parked in the Buffalo Mall parking lot Thursday, April 14, waiting for Interstate 94 to open.
Masaki Ova / The Jamestown Sun

JAMESTOWN – Ahmed Hussein was sitting in his semitrailer at the S&R Truck Plaza eager to get to Mandan, N.D. The owner and operator of A.L.A. Transport said he has been passing the time by talking on the phone, reading content online and going through social media.

Hussein said it was the first time he has been waiting somewhere because he cannot get on Interstate 94, which was still closed as of about 5 p.m. Thursday, April 14. He said there were people parked at S&R Truck Plaza who had been there for two days.

“I hope we get some kind of information when they open it right away,” he said. “Somebody knock on our doors and say, ‘Hey you got to leave. It’s open now.’”

Hussein is one of the many semitrailer drivers parked in Jamestown because I-94 to Montana was closed overnight Wednesday, April 13, because of a blizzard. Limited parking for commercial motor vehicles was reported Wednesday in Jamestown, according to the North Dakota Department of Transportation. The NDDOT said parking for large vehicles in Jamestown and Bismarck was near capacity and commercial vehicle drivers were encouraged to plan accordingly.

Hussein said drivers keep their semitrailers running even when they are not going anywhere.

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“With the fuel prices, it’s killing me,” he said.

The parking lots at Walmart and Buffalo Mall were full with semitrailers.

“It’s probably the most trucks I have ever seen,” Stutsman County Sheriff Chad Kaiser said.

The Jamestown area was in a blizzard warning until 7 p.m. Thursday, April 14.

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Snow blows around Thursday morning, April 14, at the Jamestown Fire Department.
Masaki Ova / The Jamestown Sun

At about 2 p.m., Kaiser said visibility was reduced on highways north and south of Jamestown. He said there was blowing snow and some areas with snow-covered roads.

“Definitely some slush, so it’s kind of melting,” he said.

I-94 was still closed from Jamestown to the Montana border at 6 p.m. Thursday. A no-travel advisory was in place for I-94 from Jamestown to Valley City.

U.S. Highway 52/281 from Jamestown to the Canadian border was opened at 4:45 p.m. although no-travel advisory was still in place. Most of Stutsman County remained under no-travel advised at 6 p.m.

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As of 6 a.m. Thursday, the North Dakota State Hospital recorded 3.5 inches of snow since Tuesday, April 12, according to James Telken, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Jamestown.

Telken said if some of the snow is melting or compact between the times when the measurements are taken, it might not record the actual amount of snow that fell in the area.

“The liquid was actually 0.64 hundredths (at the State Hospital), if you were thinking about 10-to-1 (snowfall to moisture content ratio), if that was the case you would think you might have 6 inches,” he said.

Telken said the Jamestown area could receive another 3 to 5 inches of snow starting early Sunday morning, April 17.

“There are still some questions on how quick this one will move through and exactly where it will hit,” he said. “The one good thing, at least at this point, the winds shouldn’t be as strong as it was in this event. It will still be breezy and gusty at times.”

Kaiser said if there is snow and winds on Easter Sunday, it is best for motorists to be cautious and decide if they need to drive or stay with a relative or friend.

“If you have to travel, definitely make sure your vehicle is full of fuel and you have your emergency kit inside, gloves, hat, those kinds of things just in case you do get stranded,” he said.

Masaki Ova joined The Jamestown Sun in August 2021 as a reporter. He grew up on a farm near Pingree, N.D. He majored in communications at the University of Jamestown, N.D.
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