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Published October 04 2012

Power restored to 6,500 Xcel Energy customers

FARGO - An early fall snowstorm packing strong winds knocked out power to 6,500 Xcel Energy customers in parts of the Fargo-Moorhead metro area this morning.

Power was restored to all customers by 9 a.m., said Judi Paukert, Xcel community relations manager.

An estimated 6,500 customers lost power between 6:30 and 7 a.m., she said.

The Forum building in downtown Fargo was among those that lost electricity, trapping two employees in an elevator.

Paukert said about 2,800 customers were without power for about an hour and a half and the rest were without power for about two hours and 15 minutes.

She said a power pole fire caused the outage.

"We believe the weather was a contributing factor, that the wind and moisture caused the pole fire," she said.

Traffic signals went dark at some Fargo intersections during the outage, but police Lt. Joel Vettel said there had been no reports of serious accidents. Vettel said roads were slushy but not slippery when he drove to work shortly after 7 a.m.

"It's going to be significant for some drivers, just because it's been awhile since they've driven in snow," he said.

Cass and Clay counties are under a winter weather advisory until 9 p.m., and counties north to Canada are under a winter storm warning until 1 a.m. Friday.

According to the National Weather Service:

"Snow will be heavy at times today, and north winds will increase and gust to 45 mph or even higher at times. This may produce near blizzard conditions when strong winds combine with heavy falling snow. Snow accumulations from 6 to 12 inches are expected across the northern Red River Valley into northwestern Minnesota by tonight. The heaviest snowfall will occur near the international border in Minnesota, where a foot or more is possible. This early season snow storm will produce hazardous travel."

Grand Forks had received 3 inches of snow as of 7 a.m., according to a weather service observer.