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Wendy Reuer, Published February 29 2012

Hyped storm fizzles in Fargo

FARGO – Snowplow drivers were cleaned up, caffeinated and dressed in their best long underwear.

Residents were stocked up on groceries and liquor. Schools were closed. The city of West Fargo shut down for the day. The Cass County Sheriff’s Office was in emergency mode.

All was set, and the Fargo-Moorhead area was ready and waiting for a storm predicted to dump at least a foot of snow in the area.

Oops.

WDAY-TV Chief Meteorologist John Wheeler said the final snowfall total was 4.1 inches. Most of it fell on Wednesday morning, with less than an inch dropping overnight – when snow was supposed to be heaviest.

“It really didn’t miss us, it just didn’t produce as much snow,” Wheeler said.

Other areas did get more. About 7 inches fell in Fergus Falls, Minn., and that foot that was forecasted did arrive in Alexandria, Minn.

Wheeler said predictions for the Fargo area came up short because large thunderstorms developed in the southern parts of the storm, which robbed the northern storms of moisture needed for snow production.

Although snow was not as heavy as expected, walking and driving was a slippery expedition Tuesday night and Wednesday. Interstate 29 between Fargo and Watertown, S.D., was closed around 11 p.m. Tuesday before reopening mid-day.

“The timing of this thing last night worked out. When we did do the (Interstate 29) closure there was little to no traffic out there,” North Dakota Highway Patrol Lt. Aaron Hummel said. “Then today, it was a quick and easy clean-up. It went from bad to good in short order.”

Hummel said no serious accidents were reported due to the storm.

Truck stops in Fargo were buzzing with drivers riding out the storm, many of whom were waiting for I-29 to open again. Dave Muetzel started his trip in Canada and was trying to get to Boston.

“The weather was fine until I hit here,” Muetzel said Wednesday morning at the Petro Travel Center. “I’m just going to wait until it calms down a bit.”

Nine semi-truck tractors and trailers jackknifed in Minnesota, State Patrol Sgt. Jesse Grabow said.

Grabow said along with the jackknifed trucks, more than 280 crashes occurred between Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday evening. Of those accidents, 30 crashes resulted in injuries. State Troopers also responded to an additional 316 vehicles that slid off the roadway and needed to be towed.

Xcel Energy said there were widespread power outages across Minnesota, with about 16,000 customers without service.

The storm prompted classes to be canceled at the University of Minnesota campuses in Duluth and Morris also shut down.

The storm was expected to move out of the region by late Wednesday, with a chance for only light snow today and highs climbing into the 30s.


The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Wendy Reuer at (701) 241-5530