Prepare for the inevitable North Dakota winter

2019 Blizzard
A Dec. 29, 2019, blizzard as shows how difficult winter weather can be in North Dakota. John M. Steiner / Sun file photo

There is one thing that is pretty much a given when it comes to North Dakota weather, said Jerry Bergquist, Stutsman County emergency manager and 911 coordinator.

"Winter will happen at some time," he said. "Winter Weather Awareness Week is to get people to think about snow, blizzards, wind chills and things like that."

Gov. Doug Burgum declared Oct. 26-30 as North Dakota Winter Weather Awareness Week earlier this fall.

Adam Jones, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Bismarck, said the terminology and procedures used to alert people of hazardous winter weather are the same this year as last year.

People with an interest in the weather and how it may affect their life should monitor the website for information that includes the hazardous weather outlook for the next seven days and any watches, warnings or advisories that might be issued.


A watch means there is at least a 50% chance of the adverse weather listed in the watch while a warning means forecasts indicate an 80% chance of hazardous weather. Advisories are issued when it is highly probable or the adverse weather is already occurring for the advisory area.

Bergquist said planning ahead is the best way to stay safe. People should have at least three days of food, medicine and other supplies in their home.

People should also make sure their vehicles are in good working condition and equipped with a winter supply kit. Winter travelers should also make sure they carry things like shovels and ice scrapers in their vehicle and dress appropriately for the winter cold when traveling, Bergquist said.

"Keep a cellphone charged in the car," Bergquist said. "You still have to be smart. Even with a cellphone, if you get stuck, you may not get assistance right away."

Bergquist said this October was a lot less winterlike than last year and early snow has melted.

"We've gotten a bit of a reprieve from winter the last days," he said. "I don't think anyone will complain about that."

Jones said the long-range forecast for the winter anticipates close to normal conditions.

"Expect a little on the colder and snow side this winter," he said. "When most people think about it, they'll think it was a normal, typical North Dakota winter."

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