GRAND FORKS — It's time to work on that cabin fever again.
A ground blizzard was forecast to hit the Red River Valley Wednesday night, Jan. 23, with wind gusts of up to 50 mph, according to meteorologist Timothy Lynch of the National Weather Service in Grand Forks.
He said the worst time was expected to be about 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. and continuing into the night and early morning, with winds letting up a bit after sunrise. Conditions may start to improve early Thursday afternoon.
Lynch said the biggest problem will be drifting and visibility problems because of the fresh snow that blanketed the region earlier this week.
"To add insult to injury, the wind will be followed by some very cold air," Lynch said.
He said the highs will be below zero on Thursday, in the minus 2 to minus 6 range, but wind chills will be much more dangerous.
The temperature could drop to minus 20 later Thursday.
With weather conditions worsening, Moorhead and West Fargo schools canceled all activities and community education classes after 6 p.m. on Wednesday. Also Fargo, West Fargo and Moorhead schools, among others in the region, are planning to open two hours late on Thursday. Rural community schools, such as Kindred and Northern Cass, were also planning to start two hours late.
Late Wednesday night, the North Dakota Department of Transportation and North Dakota Highway Patrol issued a "no travel advisory" for eastern and parts of south-central North Dakota due to snow and blowing snow creating icy road conditions and near-zero visibility. Cities in the advisory were Fargo, Wahpeton, Gwinner, Grand Forks, Cooperstown, Pembina, Cavalier, Langdon, Devils Lake, Rugby, Carrington, Valley City, Jamestown, Ellendale, Ashley and surrounding areas.
Farther west, NDDOT and the Patrol also issued a travel alert for other parts of south-central North Dakota because of snow and blowing snow creating slippery road conditions and areas of reduced visibility. The alert included Bismarck, Dickinson, Steele, Mandan, Napoleon, Underwood and surrounding areas.
NDDOT said the wind chills as low as 40 below zero could cause frostbite on exposed skin in as little as 10 minutes and that snowplows may be pulled from roads during severe conditions. Motorists who chose to travel when "no travel is advised" do it at their own risk as if they become stranded emergency responders may not be able to reach them safely. It could also change to a "road closed or blocked" warning if conditions get even worse.
The winds and wind chills will ease up a bit on Friday as winds are expected to be light, but with only a high of 1 to 2 degrees.