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Published November 24, 2010, 10:00 PM

Holiday travelers rush to beat storm

Windy conditions, inch of snow forecast for F-M
With a wallop of a winter storm fast approaching, holiday travelers were hoping to beat Old Man Winter to the punch and headed out early Wednesday.

By: Wendy Reuer and J. Shane Mercer Forum staff writers, INFORUM

With a wallop of a winter storm fast approaching, holiday travelers were hoping to beat Old Man Winter to the punch and headed out early Wednesday.

The National Weather Service in Grand Forks placed much of the Red River Valley in a blizzard watch until tonight, but the watch was canceled and the area was placed in a winter weather advisory until 6 p.m. today instead.

Meteorologist Tom Grafenauer said the storm turned out to be slower moving than first expected but still a complex system.

He said breezy conditions will remain and today’s westerly winds of 20 to 25 mph could cause some blowing and drifting on the roads. Large accumulations are not expected, with only about an inch to land in Fargo-Moorhead.

The blizzard watch prompted Concordia College to cancel all Wednesday classes by Tuesday night, giving students a jump start on Thanksgiving travel. Wednesday morning, North Dakota State University canceled all afternoon classes.

NDSU sophomore Sam Stutsman was ready to go after the school’s announcement. He was “pretty confident” he’d be OK on the drive to his grandparents’ place on Lake Lida, Minn.

Not everyone at NDSU needed an official cancellation to forget about class. Junior Inderjeet Singh said there are usually more than 20 people in his 10 a.m. calculus class.

“There were like six today,” he said.

Dana Hanson with the Minnesota Department of Transportation said plow drivers – crews had been on the roads since early Wednesday morning – noticed heavier traffic early in the day. Traffic was moving pretty well until an afternoon freezing rain drizzled into the area.

“At this point right now, we’re just kind of reacting to whatever Mother Nature throws our way,” Hanson said. “I was a little surprised by the freezing rain; it wasn’t on any of our (weather) radars.”

Full crews were also ready throughout North Dakota.

Jamie Olson with the North Dakota Department of Transportation said the holiday was not deterring staff. A travel alert for much of the state east of Jamestown was issued about 4 p.m., warning motorists to slow down.

Michael Haugrud of Fargo was out in the cold Wednesday on his way to the Twin Cities area for Thanksgiving to see his daughter.

“So we hope the weather is going to be co-operating for us,” Haugrud said. “If it gets tough, we’ll turn around and come back.”

It was more than the rain that caused some problems for plow drivers. Hanson said crews reported drivers following plows too closely, creating dangerous driving conditions and interrupting sand and salt deposits. As of press time, no major accidents had been reported in the area.


Readers can reach Wendy Reuer at (701) 241-5530 and Shane Mercer at (701) 451-5734

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