More than 16 inches of snow falls in some parts of ND; and it could take days for some roads to open and power to be restored
FARGO—Most of North Dakota could have used Santa's sleigh on Sunday and Monday, and into Tuesday, too.
A holiday storm that started on Christmas Day shut down many roads in North Dakota and caused power outages in many communities and rural homes across the state.
Snow ranged from less than a half inch in Fargo to 16.5 inches in Dickinson in far western North Dakota to 16 inches in Starkweather in far northern North Dakota, just north of Devils Lake.
Snow was so heavy in the central part of the state, too, that Bismarck with another 12.5 inches of snow Christmas weekend, had to switch from using motor graders that were getting stuck on city streets to slower-moving front-end loaders. Some Bismarck streets, the city said, might not be cleared until Wednesday.
Airports were also closed in Bismarck and Minot, but were expected to reopen Tuesday.
Monday morning, the North Dakota Department of Transportation closed Interstate 94 through North Dakota. Late Monday, I-94 remained closed between Jamestown and Dickinson. NDOT also closed Interstate 29 from Grand Forks to the Canadian border for much of the day before re-opening that portion.
Highway 83 from Canada to Bismarck was closed due to snow, ice and blowing and drifting. Also closed were Highway 2 from Minot to just west of Devils Lake, and Highway 52 from Minot to Carrington.
Otter Tail Power Co. issued a statement alerting customers in its service area that freezing rain and ice were taking a toll on power lines and causing numerous outages. On Monday, Otter Tail said 13 communities it serves were having power problems. Jamestown and Milbank, S.D., were especially hard hit.
Cass County Electric Cooperative reported late Monday morning that 1,300 of its customers were without power and crews that began working on the issues Sunday continued to work on them. Rain that turned to ice, followed by strong winds, were causing problems for power lines and those that work on them. The primary area of problems extended from north of Valley City to south of Lisbon.
In central and western North Dakota, Montana-Dakota Utilities Co.MDU hoped that power could be restored to some of its customers before Tuesday morning. Power restoration to several towns, including Burstad, Hazelton, Hoven, Lebanon, Onaka and Tolstoy, could take longer.
Montana-Dakota Utilities Co. is encouraging customers to check their natural gas meter and furnace vent areas to make sure there is not a buildup of snow and ice and asks anyone operating snow removal equipment to be aware of objects buried under the snow, which can include natural gas meters and risers.
KEM, Mor-Gran-Sou, Roughrider and Slope Electric power cooperatives in central and western North Dakota have also said freezing ice on power lines, heavy snow on cross-arms and high wind gusts have caused hundreds of power outages in their service areas. Poor visibility and clogged roads have slowed restoration times and may hamper power restoration for days.
Bill Barrett with the National Weather Service in Grand Forks said much of the region experienced sustained winds of 30-40 mph Monday afternoon, which along with icy roads and snow caused hazardous driving conditions.
He said winds were expected to diminish by Tuesday morning.
Some roads across the state could take two to three more days before they are opened.
Three wasn't as much snow in most of Minnesota, but northern Minnesotans shoveled, chipped and salted their way through Boxing Day as the Christmas storm moved out of the region leaving a wake of ice, sleet, snow and slush behind.
While some northern areas received several inches of new snow, it was sleet and rain that froze when it hit the ground that caused most problems in the Duluth area. That left a glaze of ice on many sidewalks and side streets and even some major highways, with the Minnesota Department of Transportation listing nearly all roads in parts of northern Minnesota as fully or partially snow- or ice-covered into the evening.
The Minnesota State Patrol responded to multiple cars off the road Monday, including two serious rollovers on Highway 53 north of Duluth. The Minnesota Department of Transportation also reported several spinouts on I-35 south of Duluth. No fatalities were reported.
The Weather Service posted a gale warning for Lake Superior with winds to 50 knots and waves to 14 feet into the evening. After Duluth reported wind gusts to 51 mph from the east Christmas night, winds switched to the southwest and gusted as high as 43 mph on Monday.
Winds were even higher in other parts of Minnesota.
In west central Minnesota, freezing rain and blowing winds continued to cripple Christmas travel plans Monday afternoon, with low visibility, slippery roads and sporadic power outages.
Wind gusts overnight Sunday reached more than 50 mph in several communities, with gusts as high as 66 mph in Redwood Falls, according to the National Weather Service.
From Sunday through 8 a.m. Monday, the State Patrol reported 24 crashes in its St. Cloud region, which includes Stearns, Kandiyohi, Benton, Pope, Stevens, Swift and Big Stone counties. Two of those crashes resulted in non-life threatening injuries.
As many as 37 additional vehicles spun out or slid into the ditch, according to State Patrol Sgt. Jesse Grabow.
North Dakota reports from Kalsey Stults in Dickinson, Jessica Holdman in Bismarck, Andrew Hazzard in Grand Forks and Dave Olson and Barry Amundson in Fargo. In Minnesota, reports from Gretchen Brown in Willmar and John Myers in Duluth.