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Associated Press, Published April 12 2013

Dakotas could be in store for another bad storm

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — A major spring storm that brought freezing rain and heavy snow to the Dakotas is moving out, but another one could be right on its heels.

North Dakota could see freezing rain and as much as a foot of snow this weekend, the National Weather Service said. Strong winds could accompany the storm, creating near-blizzard conditions and making travel hazardous.

Several inches of snow fell Thursday in southeastern North Dakota, the northern edge of a system that slammed South Dakota for three straight days and dumped as much as 30 inches of snow in the west and freezing rain in the east. More than 17,000 people remained without electricity in eastern South Dakota early Friday.

Xcel Energy, which had the majority of the outages, said more than 400 workers were in the field making repairs, some of them from surrounding states. In North Dakota, crews from Minot, Grand Forks and Fargo headed south.

“We'll have a massive workforce on the ground,” Xcel spokesman Mark Nisbet told The Forum.

Tree service crews also were out in force in Sioux Falls, where there was widespread tree damage from freezing rain and heavy snow. Reports of downed trees and branches were nearing 1,000, according to the Argus Leader newspaper.

“I've never seen anything like this,” said Eric Kersh, a member of one tree crew.

Fire Chief Jim Sideras cautioned residents not to use equipment to clear branches and trees without training.

“Today and tomorrow is not the day to learn how to use a chain saw,” he said. “We have to be really cautious about your safety, and the safety of your neighbors, too.”

The state was scaling back its Emergency Operations Center on Friday, and students were returning to school after several days of no classes.

With cleanup and recovery becoming the focus, the Better Business Bureau warned businesses and residents affected by storm damage to be wary of traveling workers offering their services.

“While some of these contractors may offer a low price and fast repairs, they may not stand behind their work,” agency President and CEO Jim Hegarty said in a statement. “If the contractor is from out of state, who will service the warranty if problems arise later? Consumers should ask questions.”

Sideras also warned people about scam artists asking for donations for police and fire departments.

South Dakota residents might also have to deal with more bad weather. The rain and snow forecast for North Dakota this weekend could extend into parts of South Dakota, the weather service said.

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