Wind, snow impact travel in Jamestown area
The North Dakota Highway Patrol issued a news release early Monday afternoon urging motorists to stay off secondary roads and to be patient for the reopening of I-94 and Interstate 29.
Wind and 18 inches of snow kept much of Interstate 94 closed from Bismarck to Fargo and no-travel advisories in effect through most of Monday afternoon, Dec. 27, in the Jamestown area.
Westbound lanes of I-94 from Jamestown to Bismarck were opened at 3 p.m. Monday. The eastbound lanes from Bismarck to Fargo and the westbound lanes from Fargo to Jamestown were opened at 4 p.m.
No-travel advisories were kept in place through most of Monday afternoon on U.S. Highway 281 down to South Dakota, U.S. Highway 52/281 north to Pingree and on U.S. Highway 20 north to Glenfield due to blowing snow and reduced visibility. No-travel advisories were lifted at about 4 p.m. for Barnes, Dickey, Kidder, LaMoure, Logan, McIntosh, Ransom and Stutsman counties.
A no-travel advisory means that motorists should not travel due to hazardous conditions that may make it unsafe to travel.
The North Dakota Highway Patrol said several motorists had driven on secondary roads because the interstates were closed, resulting in resources being used to rescue them.
Conditions in rural areas Monday included restricted visibility and roads filled in with drifts of new snow, according to Deputy Jason Falk with the Stutsman County Sheriff's Office.
“You can only see feet at times in the open areas,” he said Monday morning. “There is a lot of snow out there and it is really blowing around in the wind.”
Weather on Monday
The National Weather Service issued a blizzard warning Monday morning for Stutsman, Dickey, Foster, Kidder, LaMoure, Logan, McIntosh and Dickey counties until 6 p.m. Monday.
The weather service said Jamestown had 18 inches of snow from Saturday through Monday, Dec. 25-27.
The snowfall diminished early in the afternoon, but blowing and drifting snow still caused travel difficulties, said Zack Hargrove, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Bismarck.
“That’s what is causing most of the road issues right now because a lot of roads are just drifted over,” he said Monday morning.
Hargrove said that a new system coming from the southwest and spreading over south-central and eastern North Dakota Monday night into Tuesday morning could bring another 3.4 inches of snow to the Jamestown area. The North Dakota State Hospital reported 12 inches of snow at 8 a.m. Monday.
Hargrove said wind gusts Monday were as high as 45 to 50 mph. He said Jamestown could see wind chills approaching minus 40 Tuesday evening into Wednesday morning and minus 30 Wednesday evening into Thursday morning.
“It’s pretty much a broken record,” he said. “We are going to be almost nightly 30 to 40 to 45 (wind chills) below depending on the given day. It looks like the coldest time frame is going to be New Year’s Eve into New Year’s Day. That’s when we could see some 45 below wind chills.”
Officials recommend winter survival kits if traveling
If people are traveling, Hargrove and Jamestown Fire Chief Jim Reuther recommended having a winter survival kit and supplies to last two days. Reuther said motorists should have warm clothing and blankets, a candle, shovel, water and nonperishable food items for a few days as well as a phone charger.
“The other thing is sometimes if you are getting close to running out of gas you are going to run your vehicle for a little bit then turn it off and then start it again,” he said.
If a vehicle gets stuck and remains running, make sure that the exhaust pipe is cleared out around the vehicle to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, Reuther said.
“One of the big things is with the carbon monoxide everyone should know there is no taste or smell to it,” he said. “That’s what they call the silent killer.”
Carbon monoxide prevention
Reuther said to make sure all vents around your home are cleaned out to prevent carbon monoxide. Outside the home make sure the snow is cleared away from the gas meter, he said.
“Make sure your vents are all cleaned out. Make sure that your furnace is running properly,” he said. “Any heating appliances that use gas of any type make sure that they are working properly. The other thing is to make sure your roof vents aren’t covered full of snow to get sewer gas back into the house.”
If a power outage occurs, Hargrove said people should not run a generator inside their home because that can also create carbon monoxide problems.
Numerous closures, flights delayed
Jamestown Mayor Dwaine Heinrich said city snowplows were working Monday morning.
"It will take days to dig out even after the storm ends," he said. "With the storm persisting, our schedules have been moved back."
Heinrich said the storm was the most intense since March 2019. That storm disrupted the first NAIA Women's Wrestling Tournament slated for Jamestown.
Reuther said the Jamestown Fire Department had crews at the downtown fire station since 6 p.m. Sunday.
“They have been moving snow pretty much all night just to be able to get out of the main station,” he said.
Jamestown Regional Airport canceled the afternoon and evening flights Sunday as well as the Monday morning flight prior to the airport closing Sunday, said Katie Hemmer, airport director. Monday afternoon’s flight also was canceled.
“They (passengers) get rebooked. They can rebook on the next flight out of Jamestown,” she said. “Maybe some of them chose they could rebook out of a different city. Most North Dakota airports were severely affected by this, so it wasn’t like you could just potentially just drive to another location. The agents at the airports work with each passenger to accommodate the best rebooking option for them.”
She said the evening flight on Monday was scheduled to be on time.
Hemmer said a snowblower got to be used for the first time to clear the snow off the runways.
“We had it for one season prior to this,” she said. “We didn’t have a snowfall that we utilized it for last year. When we have this much snow, we really need the ability to push that snow as well as throw it far away from the runway, both to prevent it from drifting back on but also to meet our safety standards for heights of snow along the runway.”
Services such as city garbage and recycling collections were postponed Monday and will be picked up Tuesday. All routes in Jamestown will be delayed by one day through the end of the week.
All Jamestown Parks and Recreation offices and facilities, including Two Rivers Activity Center, were closed Monday. City of Jamestown offices and Stutsman County offices were closed Monday.
The North Dakota Department of Human Services offices in Jamestown were closed due to hazardous weather and road conditions.
Some services at Jamestown Regional Medical Center were closed Monday, but the emergency department remained open. JRMC is expected to connect with patients to reschedule.
Essentia Health clinics in Jamestown, Valley City and Lisbon were closed. Sanford Health was also closed, according to its website.