« Continue Browsing

e-mail article Print     e-mail article E-mail

Published February 11 2013

Interstates now open throughout the region

FARGO – Road crews and residents started digging out this morning from a blizzard that dumped record snowfall on Fargo-Moorhead and walloped areas to the south and east.

After being closed for most of the day, Interstate 29 is now open from Fargo to Watertown, S.D., and Highway 13 is now open from Wahpeton to I-29.

A no-travel advisory has been lifted for the southeast region of North Dakota.

Interstate 94 from Jamestown, N.D., to Alexandria, Minn., were opened earlier.

A travel alert remains in effect for the southeast region of North Dakota including the cities of Jamestown, Valley City, Wishek, Edgeley, Fargo, Wahpeton and surround areas due to areas of ice and compacted snow on roadways.

More than a foot of heavy, wet snow hampered efforts to open up I-29 and Highway 13 in the Wahpeton area. Plows were unable to bust through the cover in some areas, forcing the Transportation Department to bring in truck-mounted blowers to slowly cut a path through 3½- to 4-foot drifts, maintenance supervisor Bruce Nord said.

At about 3 a.m. today, DOT snowplows made an emergency medical run, blazing trails for ambulances from Wahpeton and Lidgerwood so they could rendezvous in Hankinson and handoff the patient, Nord said.

Nord hopes that crews can open all or part of I-29 south of Fargo by dark tonight, “but I don’t know if they’re guaranteeing anything,” he said.

“It took Mother Nature over 24 hours to put it on the ground. It’s going to take us a little bit to get it off,” he said.

Minnesota State Patrol Sgt. Jesse Grabow said eight or nine semitrailers remain stuck along I-94 in the Barnesville and Rothsay areas, some partially sticking into the driving lanes. Department of Transportation plows continue to try to clean packed snow off the closed section of I-94 between Moorhead and Alexandria, he said.

“It’s just very hazardous. I mean, it’s pretty rough in spots. It almost feels like you’re driving on rocks, the packed snow is that rough,” he said.

Highway 10 from Moorhead to Audubon reopened at 10:30 a.m. Highway 210 from Breckenridge to Fergus Falls reopened at 11 a.m.

A no-travel advisory remains in effect for west-central Minnesota.

A family from Wolverton, Minn., got stranded about eight miles east of the city and spent eight hours in their vehicle before Grabow picked them up at about 7:30 this morning with a snowplow leading the way.

The husband and wife and their two young children had a full tank of gas and were able to stay warm, Grabow said.

“Their biggest challenge was just keeping the exhaust pipe clear of snow,” he said, adding, “If it wouldn’t had been for snowplow, we would’ve never gotten there.”

In Fargo, primary routes were mostly clear for the morning commute, though drifting snow continued to clog some lanes, particularly on east-west thoroughfares in south Fargo, including 32nd, 40th and 52nd avenues south, said Lee Anderson, Fargo Public Works maintenance supervisor.

Snowplows cleared about 20 percent of residential streets overnight, Anderson said. He predicted crews will have “a pretty good handle on the residential plowing” by 7 p.m. when the day shift ends.

The city will have to use road graders, loaders and snow blowers to clean out roads where plows have done all they can, and trucks will begin hauling snow out of the downtown area by about 9 p.m., Anderson said.

“Tomorrow should be a much nicer day for everybody,” he said.

Sunday’s record snowfall of 9.3 inches in Fargo-Moorhead, plus almost another half-foot that fell after midnight, was “very heavy,” Anderson said. Motorists should be careful when approaching windrows left by plows at intersections, he said, adding mild temperatures have created a layer of slush under the snow.

“So that makes it even more difficult to push it around, whether you’re doing it with trucks or a shovel,” he said.

Main thoroughfares in Moorhead were in “pretty good shape” this morning, and crews hoped to start clearing residential streets around noon, city Operations Director Chad Martin said.

“Our tentative timetable would be to actually have the residentials done by 8 a.m. tomorrow morning,” he said.

Martin asked residents not to blow snow into the street because it makes it more difficult for plows.

By 11 a.m., West Fargo street crews had finished clearing snow emergency routes far ahead of schedule and were starting on residential streets, according to city public works officials. Continuous updates on their progress were being provided at www.westfargond.gov.

Grand Forks had 4.8 inches of snowfall, breaking its record for the date of 3.1 inches, set 18 years ago.

The National Weather Service (premlinary snowfall totals) says in South Dakota, Aberdeen had 8.4 inches of snow Sunday, breaking the city's record for the date of 3.4 inches set 65 years ago. Huron had 9 inches, breaking that city's 54-year-old record of 4.9 inches.