FARGO — The North Dakota Department of Transportation has now opened all of I-29 from Canada to the South Dakota border, as well as ND Highway 13 from I-29 to Wahpeton. 19th Ave. N. in Fargo is also back open. The No Travel Advisories in eastern North Dakota are also now lifted, including the cities of Fargo, Casselton, Hillsboro, Pembina, Grafton, Grand Forks, Lisbon, Forman, Wahpeton, Kindred, and surrounding areas.. Although road are opened back up, the North Dakota and Minnesota DOT maps still show many roads are still partially covered with snow, and whiteout conditions may still occur.
The North Dakota DOT posted a photo around 2 p.m. Wednesday showing their efforts to get I-29 south of Grand Forks open, which shows a significant amount of blowing and drifting snow still happening across the roads.
According to WDAY Meteorologist Lydia Blume, visibility was only reduced in town and sheltered areas, but in open country it's been much worse.
"That's where you have have dangerous travel and frequent white-outs; you can't see a thing," said Blume Wednesday morning.
In Minnesota, Highway 75 from Hendrum to Ada and Highway 2 between East Grand Forks to Crookston are also now back open.
What do the various advisories mean?
According to the North Dakota Department of Transportation, here's what these advisories and alerts mean:
Travel alert — Motorists can still travel but may encounter areas of challenging winter weather driving conditions on roadways. Motorists should allow extra time to reach their destination and be alert to conditions that may make travel difficult, change rapidly, or cause travel delays. A Travel Alert has the potential to change to a No Travel Advised if conditions deteriorate.
No Travel Advised — Motorists should not travel due to hazardous conditions which may make it unsafe to travel. Snowplows may be pulled from the roads during severe conditions. Motorists should take No Travel Advised seriously, as those motorists who choose to travel at their own risk may become stranded and emergency responders may not be able to reach them safely. A No Travel Advisory has the potential to change to a Road Closed or Blocked if conditions deteriorate.
Road closed or blocked — Motorists are not allowed to travel on a closed road due to life threatening conditions. The road may be impassible or blocked. Motorists who drive past a road closure device may be fined up to $250.
What's the difference between a regular blizzard and a ground blizzard?
"With a ground blizzard there is little or no new falling snow," said Blume. "We've seen an" inch, tops, in some spots, and the snow is done by the International border, but it's the wind that's packing a punch this morning — it's howling. You're likely hearing it."
Winds are gusting over 50 mph; there was a recorded gust of 61 mph at the Grand Forks Airport Wednesday morning.
The wind then picks that snow up that's already on the ground, tossing it around and creating zero or near-zero visibility.
Temperatures 'dropping like a rock'
In addition to the white-out conditions this ground blizzard brought, temperatures fell quickly into the "extreme cold" category.
"Temperatures are dropping like a rock," said Blume, who says when she arrived to work in the early morning hours, it was 28 degrees. "Some of us are already below zero." Dangerous wind chills remained a factor throughout the Red River Valley Wednesday afternoon.