Associated Press, Published October 26 2010
Dakotas brace for strong winds, first heavy snow of seasonBISMARCK (AP) — Strong winds buffeted the Dakotas on Tuesday, with forecasters warning that the first significant snowfall of the season was not far behind.
Much of North Dakota was under a blizzard warning Tuesday. The National Weather Service said up to 10 inches of snow could fall in some areas into early Wednesday. The snow is expected across North Dakota and into northern South Dakota.
"It's windy and it will remain windy through Wednesday," said Todd Hamilton, a weather service meteorologist in Bismarck. "And we are expecting some good amounts of snow."
The deepest snow is expected from north-central to northeast North Dakota, Hamilton said. Warmer temperatures are expected later in the week, so the snow shouldn't stick around long, he said.
"Some areas it should be gone in less than a day, in some areas it might take more than a day, he said.
The weather service said wind gusts of more than 50 mph were expected throughout the Dakotas.
High winds and impending snow were the hottest topic of talk at the Oasis Truck Stop in Bismarck on Tuesday.
"It's interesting out there on the road," said Dean Cota, a truck stop manager. "Everybody is getting blown around a bit."
Dan Olson, a trucker from LaCrosse, Wis., said the high winds forced him to take a break at the truck stop Tuesday morning. He was returning home after dropping off a load of produce but his empty semitrailer was getting whipped by the wind.
"When it's empty, it's more easier to tip over," he said. "I'm shutting her down."
Maj. Neil Johnson of the North Dakota Highway Patrol said high-profile vehicles are susceptible to blow-overs during high winds.
"He made a good choice," Johnson said of the Wisconsin trucker.
The patrol had no reports of weather-related crashes on Tuesday, Johnson said. Troopers typically increase patrols during times of severe weather, he said.
"There is some adjusting of schedules to provide coverage over a longer period of time and later in the night," Johnson said.
Gov. John Hoeven earlier declared Monday through Friday "Severe Winter Weather Awareness Week." The annual designation reminds North Dakotans to drive safely during severe weather and to advises families to have an alternative heating source in case of a power outage and at least a three-day cache of food and water.
"We do this every fall because it helps to remind folks winter weather is imminent," Hoeven spokesman Don Canton said. "Every year some people get caught short. This is a precaution and it's helpful because some people have busy lives and are not thinking about a snowstorm."
Residents in Larimore, in northeast North Dakota, were bracing for the wintry weather. Snow shovels were expected to be hot sellers on Tuesday and Wednesday, said Chris Parshall, who works at a hardware store in town.
"People have been buying rain suits because it's been raining hard the last few days," he said. "Snow shovels will be next."
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.