5 things to know today: Possible blizzard, Case dismissed, State of the Cities, Bonding proposal, Cyberattack increases
1. Possible blizzard Friday and Saturday may produce whiteout conditions
Eastern North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota will see wind gusts exceeding 40 mph in a snowstorm that will create whiteout conditions and likely will make travel impossible at times, the National Weather Service warns.
The weather service predicts the snowstorm will hit the Fargo-Moorhead metro area around noon on Friday, Jan. 17, as the storm spreads northward, reaching the Grand Forks area around 3 p.m. and the Devils Lake-Langdon area around 6 p.m.
The worst impacts from the storm will be Friday night into Saturday, and the storm is expected to wind down Saturday afternoon or evening.
More from The Forum's Patrick Springer
2. Federal judge dismisses case of California couple arrested on drug charges
A federal judge has dismissed a drug case against two Californians who were arrested in March after North Dakota troopers said they found 32 pounds of meth and 35 pounds of marijuana in a car traveling on Interstate 94 near Fargo.
On Jan. 9, U.S. District Judge Peter Welte signed the order to dismiss charges against Cheng Kong Yang, 31, and Vikkie See Vue Lor, 39, both of Sacramento. The married couple were federally indicted June 21, 2018.
The dismissal came two days after Welte signed an order to suppress evidence obtained during a March 4, 2018, traffic stop that yielded 30 bundles of meth and 54 bundles of marijuana. In a recommendation report adopted by Welte, Magistrate Judge Alice Senechal agreed with the defense that a trooper “unlawfully prolonged the traffic stop without reasonable suspicion of other crimes.”
Read more from The Forum's April Baumgarten
3. Construction projects, notable deaths dominate State of the Cities
Construction projects — completed, ongoing and planned — as well as the deaths of notable personalities in the past year dominated the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce State of the Cities event held Thursday, Jan. 16, at Fargo's Garden Hilton Inn, where four metro-area mayors recapped 2019 accomplishments and plans for the future.
Much was shared regarding the lasting impact that the late Craig Whitney, president and CEO of the Chamber, has had on that organization and the community as a whole.
West Fargo Mayor Bernie Dardis dedicated his presentation to the memory of Whitney, who died Dec. 14 at the age of 59.
"My heart is heavy, because that chair is empty," Dardis said, referencing the seat where Whitney traditionally sat during past events hosted by the Chamber.
More from The Forum's Dave Olson
4. Moorhead projects make cut for Minn. Governor's bonding proposal
Moorhead has five projects included in Gov. Tim Walz's record $2 billion proposed bonding bill that Minnesota legislators will take up starting in February.
If funded and approved by lawmakers, Moorhead could be in line for as much as $90 million in state funding.
The biggest chunk would be for the 11th Street North downtown railroad underpass with an estimated cost by the Minnesota Department of Transportation of $62 million.
The project is expected to improve fire and police response times, eliminate wait times for drivers and give an economic boost to downtown development. It would piggyback on the massive 20th Street and Main Avenue underpass project that's fully funded and on track to be finished later this year.
Read more from The Forum's Barry Amundson
5. Cyberattacks against N.D. increased 300% last year
Attempted cyberattacks against the North Dakota state government grew by nearly 300% last year, according to Shawn Riley, the state’s chief information officer and head of the information technology department.
That number equates to more than 15 million cyberattacks a month, up from 5 million a month in 2018.
But North Dakota isn’t alone, Riley noted.
“That’s part of a world trend,” he said. “We’re trending a little higher than certain organizations, but, yeah, pretty substantial increases overall.”
Comprehensive numbers are still being compiled for 2019, but in 2018, there were more than 300 million comprehensive attacks. Riley said his agency expects that number to be “considerably higher” for 2019.