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Forum News Service, Published March 21 2014

Stormy weather hits Duluth, Grand Forks areas; F-M gets light dusting

The calendar may say spring, but you couldn’t tell by looking out the window.

The Fargo-Moorhead area received a light dusting of snow Friday, but Duluth received more than 6 inches, pushing the seasonal snowfall total there – since snow started last autumn – to about 98 inches.

That’s nearly 2 feet more than average for this time of year and already more than a foot above what the area usually gets for an entire winter season. International Falls reported a full foot of new snow Friday, with much of the rest of the region receiving between 4 and 8 inches.

And there probably will be more to come: Last April was the snowiest month in Duluth’s recorded history, when 50.8 inches of snow fell. A total of 110 inches of snow fell last winter, the fifth-snowiest on record for the city.

Duluth’s all-time snowiest winter on record was 1995-96, when 135.4 inches fell.

Stormy weather also hit the Grand Forks area Friday, resulting icy roads, several vehicle accidents and a series of power outages that left about 1,200 Xcel Energy customers in Grand Forks without power.

The biggest outage in Grand Forks was caused by a downed wire resulting from ice buildup and winds that gusted to more than 40 mph, said Mark Nisbet, Xcel area manager for North Dakota.

Another half-dozen smaller outages were reported in various parts of the city.

Three Xcel crews from Fargo were dispatched to Grand Forks to help restore power, he said.

Travel advisories were issued Friday morning for all of northeastern North Dakota, including areas around the cities of Grand Forks, Grafton and Pembina, as well as western Marshall and southern Kittson counties in northwestern Minnesota.

Minnesota Highway 1 was closed Friday between Oslo and Warren until 4:30 p.m.

Police and rescue crews responded to a rash of vehicle accidents, including rollovers.

The North Dakota Highway Patrol responded to at least three property crashes and 10 to 12 vehicles in ditches, said Lt. David Wolf.

One accident was a semitrailer that jackknifed along U.S. Highway 2 between East Grand Forks, Minn., and the Fisher’s Landing Travel Center at Fisher, Minn., before 8 a.m.

No one was injured in the accidents, Wolf said.

Friday’s snow in the Duluth area snarled traffic, especially on roads climbing Duluth’s hillside. Duluth police responded to at least 21 accidents during the six-hour snowfall, along with six vehicles in the ditch.

Interstate 35 between Duluth and Moose Lake was a hot spot for vehicles in the ditch.

Today shouldn’t be stormy in the Grand Forks or Duluth areas, but it will be cold.

The high in Grand Forks will be near 14 degrees, and the low for today is minus 4.

Temperatures are expected to be 20 to 25 degrees below normal in the Duluth area over the weekend – highs in the teens and lows in the single digits – with temperatures not crawling to near normal, or above freezing, until Thursday.