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DEEP FREEZE Cold weather results in frost deeper in ground

Running water a little bit will help keep water from freezing in underground lines. Colder temperatures and a lack of snow cover have driven the frost depth down. John M. Steiner / The Sun

Weather conditions this winter have been perfect for the ground to freeze deeper than normal, according to Josh Clocksene, underground utility manager at Scherbenske Inc., a Jamestown area excavating company.

“No snow and cold weather,” he said. “It depends on the soil type and conditions, but the deepest we’ve seen (this year) is 5 feet.”

Average frost depths are between 3 and 4 feet in the area, Clocksene said. Last year at this time, frost was about 1 foot deep.

Utilities that are vulnerable to freezing are buried deeper than that.

“Some winters the frost can reach 7 feet,” said Ben Aaseth, engineer for Interstate Engineering in Jamestown. “Most water line projects call for water lines to be 8 feet deep.”

Geneva Kaiser, manager of Stutsman Rural Water District, said the district hadn’t received reports of any frozen water lines, although rural water districts in northern North Dakota had.

Justin Lorenz, managing member of Mikkelson Aggregate, the excavating company that works with All Seasons Water Users District in Bottineau, said they had dealt with frozen water lines in some areas.

“Mostly where it is relatively bare (of snow) in the wide open areas,” he said. “Wheat stubble holds snow so that’s not a problem. Soybean fields are bare so the snow blows off. That’s where we see things freeze deep.”

Vaughn Dewald, owner of Dewald’s Backhoe, said the frost has been uniform at about 2 feet deep when he has been digging graves around Stutsman County.

“Most of the time it’s in a sheltered area with some snow on the ground,” he said.

Bob Martin, manager of Pipestem Dam, said the deep frost can reduce the amount of snowmelt moisture that soaks into the ground during the spring.

“There will be more runoff because of the frost,” he said, “but the wetlands are dry, so most of that runoff will accumulate in the sloughs.”

Clocksene said property owners worried about their water line freezing should leave a faucet running a little bit to keep the water moving through the underground lines.

“I wouldn’t waste the water yet,” he said. “I’d wait until you hear there are problems.”

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"There will be more runoff because of the frost, but the wetlands are dry, so most of that runoff will accumulate in the sloughs.

of BOB Pipestem MARTIN Dam , manager