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Mike Nowatzki, Published February 09 2009

Region braces for ice storm

A “significant and damaging” ice storm was forecast to hit the region today, with the potential to cover roadways, trees and power lines with up to a quarter-inch of ice, the National Weather Service says.

An ice storm warning was in effect from midnight Sunday until midnight tonight for all of eastern North Dakota except three counties in the southeastern corner, as well as for Clay, Norman, Kittson and the western halves of Polk and Marshall counties in Minnesota.

Ice accumulations and wind will make travel “dangerous or impossible” and will likely

lead to snapped power lines and falling tree branches, according to the weather service office in Grand Forks, N.D.

The ice storm warning will be followed by a winter weather advisory through 6 p.m. Wednesday for periods of heavy snow.

Freezing rain was expected to move into the Fargo-Moorhead area during the pre-dawn hours and make for a slippery commute this morning, said weather service meteorologist Dan Riddle.

“Anything untreated will certainly be very slick and hazardous,” he said.

Moorhead Operations Manager Chad Martin said city crews were starting their shift at midnight Sunday and would be ready to hit the streets with salt and sand if the freezing rain started falling.

“There’s a fair amount of sand on the streets already, but if the ice melts a little bit, the sand will resurface and get you better traction again,” he said.

Worse conditions were on tap to the west. Rain began falling in Stutsman County, N.D., late Sunday, and a dispatcher reported at 10:30 p.m. that cars were sliding off roads and into ditches.

In central North Dakota, freezing rain and sleet was expected to change to snow this afternoon, with 6 to 12 inches of wet snow possible, the weather service said.

The freezing rain is expected to change to rain this afternoon in F-M as the temperature rises to around 36 degrees, Riddle said.

Bands of light rain and freezing rain will likely continue through tonight and Tuesday morning.

The rain will change to snow as temperatures drop Tuesday, and the Red River Valley has the potential for 3 to 5 inches of snow before the storm moves out of the region Wednesday, Riddle said. Lesser amounts are expected in areas south and east of Fargo, he said.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528