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Late winter storm brings snow, wind

Motorists didn't have to travel very far south of Jamestown on US HWY 281 Thursday during the early afternoon to drive into blizzard conditions. John M. Steiner / The Sun

A distance of 60 miles made a lot of difference in weather conditions Thursday.

"Blowing snow started about 10 a.m.," said Charlie Russell, emergency manager for Dickey County, describing the conditions at Ellendale on Thursday. "We pretty much went from nothing to 'oh my God' in no time."

Russell said schools, government offices and businesses in Dickey County were closed Thursday. People were urged to shelter in place rather than risk travel on snow-covered roads that could also have damage from previous flooding.

The Jamestown area was reporting snow flurries even in the middle of the afternoon, according to Todd Hamilton, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Bismarck.

"It is moving slower than anticipated," he said, referring to the weather system bringing the snow and wind to the region. "Not much else has changed. The southern James River valley (in North Dakota) and east into southeast North Dakota is still looking at 12 to 16 inches of snow from the system."

The NWS issued a winter storm warning for Stutsman County and a blizzard warning for Barnes, LaMoure and Dickey counties Thursday extending into Friday.

The North Dakota Department of Transportation issued a no-travel advisory for southeast North Dakota at 1:30 p.m. Thursday. By that time, Interstate 29 from Fargo to the South Dakota border had been closed along with Highway 13 from I-29 to Wahpeton. Interstate 94 from Jamestown to Fargo was closed at 3:30 p.m.

Hamilton said the snow was caused by a slow-moving surface low-pressure system moving north across the Central Plains. The system was forecast to turn toward the east sometime Friday and be over the Great Lakes by Friday afternoon.

Hamilton said Stutsman County was on the edge of the storm system and would likely see a variety of snow amounts by the time the system clears the area.

Places like Woodworth in northwestern Stutsman County could receive 3 to 5 inches of snow while Montpelier in southeast Stutsman could get as much as 10 inches of snow, he said.

"In Jamestown, probably in that 6 to 7 inches of snow range," Hamilton said.

The city of Jamestown plans to begin its snow removal program at 5 a.m. Friday by plowing emergency routes. Crews will move to the residential areas at 11 a.m. and to the downtown areas at 11 p.m. The snow removal plans are contingent on weather conditions and actual snow accumulation amounts.

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