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Forum and wire reports, Published March 04 2013

UPDATED: No travel advisory lifted in Jamestown and Valley City areas; northern counties bear brunt of storm

GRAND FORKS – A winter storm dropped heavy snow in some parts of the Dakotas and brought freezing rain to others, shutting down schools and creating problems for motorists.

The North Dakota Department of Transportation lifted a no travel advisory for the Jamestown and Valley City areas at 1 p.m., but a travel alert remained in effect for the Devils Lake, Grand Forks and Minot areas.

The National Weather Service issued storm warnings and advisories in the Dakotas through Monday night and into Tuesday in some areas. The storm with mixed precipitation and gusty winds moved east out of Montana and crossed the Dakotas into Minnesota and Iowa.

“There’s quite a variance (in precipitation) depending on where you are, but overall it’s a pretty large storm system,” said Dave Kellenbenz, a weather service meteorologist in Grand Forks.

Northeastern North Dakota took the brunt of the storm early Monday. Devils Lake had 10 inches of snow by midmorning, and the town of Sarles had a foot of snow, with more falling, Kellenbenz said. No travel was advised on local county roads in Walsh and Pembina counties.

Northwestern North Dakota got snow and freezing rain, and the weather service posted a blizzard warning for that region. Sheriff’s offices in Renville, Divide and Williams counties advised no travel early Monday, and state transportation officials later expanded the call for no travel to all of northwestern North Dakota.

In southeastern North Dakota and parts of eastern South Dakota, freezing rain that coated roads was more of a problem. No travel was advised in parts of southeastern North Dakota early Monday, and motorists were urged to use caution in many in other areas. There were no immediate reports of major accidents, though KELO-TV reported dozens of vehicles in the ditches in the Sioux Falls area, especially along Interstate 29.

Many schools in the two states started classes late or canceled them for the day.

Snowfall totals were expected to be around a foot in the Devils Lake area, 4 to 7 inches in far southeastern North Dakota into west-central Minnesota and 5 to 8 inches over the northern valley into northwestern Minnesota.

Wind gusts up to 30 mph will be possible in eastern North Dakota tonight and Tuesday, causing reduced visibility in blowing snow, the weather service said.

The storm was not expected to worsen the outlook for spring flooding in the Red River Valley because the precipitation is not out of the norm for this time of year. The heavier snow also fell in the northern part of the valley, rather than in the south, where the river begins and flows north, Kellenbenz said.