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Associated Press, Published October 15 2013

Heavy rainfall setting records, forcing delays in harvest in North Dakota

BISMARCK — Rainy weather is setting records in North Dakota, leading to concerns about rural roads in the western oil patch and putting a damper on the sugar beet harvest in the east.

Bismarck, Dickinson, Jamestown, Grand Forks and Fargo all set daily rainfall records for Oct. 14 on Monday, according to National Weather Service reports. Fargo had the most rain, with 1.27 inches. Dickinson had 1.2 inches. There also was some scattered light snowfall reported in southwestern North Dakota.

The rain comes on the heels of an early October storm that dumped rain and up to 1 ½ feet of snow in southwestern North Dakota, and rain late last week. The recent wet weather has prompted officials in McKenzie County — in the heart of the bustling oil patch — to temporarily ban large trucks from gravel and dirt roads until conditions improve, according to The Bismarck Tribune.

The county, which is trying to prevent expensive damage to saturated roads, has pulled anything heavier than 6 tons from rural roads, county road operations engineer Mike Dollinger said. Truckers are cooperating, and the ban means that school buses are the heaviest things out on the roads, he said.

"It's amazing how many trucks there are around, now that they're all parked," he said.

Officials in Stark County, also in the oil patch, are requesting a voluntary shutdown of heavy hauling on rural roads, except for services essential to keeping oil rigs operating, Road Superintendent Al Heiser told The Dickinson Press.

In central North Dakota, the rainfall has added to an already-established yearly record in the Minot area. The annual total at the North Dakota State University research center on the south edge of the city has now surpassed 30 inches, half a foot above the 1975 record of just under 27 inches, according to the Minot Daily News.

In eastern North Dakota, the rain has put a damper on the sugar beet harvest, leaving a lot of farmers in limbo, according to WDAY-TV. Fields are saturated and muddy, and winter is fast approaching.

"As it gets closer and closer to November, you get more and more antsy, and more and more concerned," Grand Forks area farmer Paul Mathiason said.

The weather service anticipates the Red River in Fargo could reach 22 feet by Saturday, 4 feet above minor flood stage, The Forum newspaper reported. Low-lying areas, one road and one bridge would be flooded.


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