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Katherine Grandstrand, The Dickinson Press, Published April 18 2013

13 involved in accidents along Highway 22 in Dunn County

Motorists hoping that April 17 meant dry, safe roads were in for a shock as 13 people ended up in minor accidents along North Dakota Highway 22 early Wednesday morning.

The North Dakota Highway Patrol responded to crashes at mile marker 85, about 11 miles north of Dickinson in Dunn County, at about 6:40 a.m., Highway Patrol Sgt. Dan Haugen said.

“They didn’t necessarily pile up on the highway,” he said. “They would strike each other and then go into the ditches. Then other vehicles would lose control and hit those vehicles that were already in the ditches.”

There were no major injuries, but one person was taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital and Health Center by the Dickinson Area Ambulance Service, Haugen said.

The highway patrol did not release the names of anyone involved in the accidents on Wednesday.

Some vehicles sustained major damage. East End Auto had five wreckers on scene and Alternative Towing also had a presence.

It took crews three hours to clear the scene and traffic was reduced to one lane during that time.

A no-travel advisory was issued for Dunn County, especially along Highway 22, due to slippery, frosted roads and a heavy fog for the three hours authorities responded to the accident, Haugen said.

“The weather didn’t cause the crashes,” he said. “The weather causes people to slow down. It’s people making bad driving decisions that cause the crashes.

“People were driving too fast for the conditions, they weren’t leaving enough space between other vehicles and these crashes could have been preventable with some more defensive driving.”

Dickinson received a dusting of snow overnight that quickly melted by mid-morning.

The Dunn County Sheriff’s Office did not respond to any incidents on other roads in the county, Chief Deputy Matt Hegstad said Wednesday morning.

“Keep it slow, watch for other slow-moving traffic,” he said. “Drive as safe as possible, there’s a lot of traffic on the highway.”

Slick morning roads may be the norm for a week or so as the 16-plus inches of snow southwest North Dakota received on Sunday melts.

“As soon as the sun comes up, even when it’s cloudy, it’s so high in the sky right now the amount of energy is tremendous that’s coming out of it,” National Weather Service Meteorologist Nathan Heinert said. “It easily melts the roads.”

Temperatures are expected to be in the 30s through Friday, and warm up slightly through the weekend, he said. Temperatures will dip below freezing overnight.

“We should see a lot of snow melt in the next few days,” Heinert said.

Temperatures will be in the 30s as a cold front moves in Sunday. But southwest North Dakota could see 50-plus degree weather by the end of next week.

“As far as really warm temperatures — like 60s, 70s — that’s not on the horizon just yet,” Heinert said. “But it will come.”