BLIZZARD CONDITIONS BRING F-M TO STANDSTILL
UPDATED 14:25 p.m.
UPDATED 14:25 p.m.
FARGO - Blizzard conditions have brought the Fargo-Moorhead area to a standstill, closing businesses, schools and government offices and forcing the city of Fargo to close one of its main east-west thoroughfares.
Conditions are so bad, the United States Postal Service announced at 1:30 p.m. that mail delivery had been suspended in the Fargo-Moorhead area.
Minnesota officials closed Interstate 94 from Moorhead to Fergus Falls and Highway 10 from Moorhead to Lake Park at 11 a.m.
Fargo closed 19th Avenue North between 18th Street and Dakota Drive shortly after 10 a.m., according to a news release from the Fargo Public Works Department.
Fargo Police Sgt. Greg Stone said officers responded to crashes at the intersection of 19th Avenue and Dakota Drive, and visibility on 19th was greatly reduced.
Clay County Sheriff Bill Bergquist advised residents not "to go anywhere unless they have to," as roads were quickly blowing shut with snow.
"The deputies are getting stuck. We're heading up right now to rescue one near Felton. It's just getting to be a pain," he said.
Stone said he'd heard an unsubstantiated rumor that officers were pulling people over just for driving in the blizzard.
"We're not doing that. I mean, if you drive around a barricade on a closed street, you're subject to being cited. But we're not stopping people that are out going to work or doing whatever."
Hector International Airport remained open, but a number of flights had been cancelled.
The cities of Fargo and West Fargo, and the Cass County Sheriff's Office, have issued no travel advisories for the city and rural areas as roads continue to fill in with blowing snow, while shopping centers and MeritCare clinics will not be open.
MeritCare locations in Fargo, Moorhead and West Fargo - including walk-in clinics and FastTracks - will close at 10 a.m. today. Innovis Health announced its clinics in Fargo and Moorhead will close at noon.
The number of cancellations have poured into The Forum this morning. Check weather-related announcements on www.inforum.com to see the latest.
WDAY Radio News is reporting both West Acres and Moorhead Center shopping malls will be closed. However, the Herberger's store in Moorhead will be open.
The city of Fargo announced just before 10 a.m. that all non-essential city offices will close at 11 a.m. and reopen Wednesday, weather permitting.
MeritCare Hospital announced that clinics in Halstad, Mahnomen and Ottertail in Minnesota and Hillsboro and Mayville in North Dakota will be closed.
Elsewhere in Minnesota, MeritCare clinics in Hawley, Perham and New York Mills will be closing at noon today.
MeritCare's emergency center at 720 4 St. N., Fargo, will remain open.
The Fargo Park District announced it was closing all of its facilities and canceling programs for the day.
Courts Plus Fitness Center & Court Plus Southwest plan to close at 10 a.m.
Four vehicles were abandoned on Cass County 10 this morning between West Fargo and Casselton, Cass County Chief Deputy Jim Thoreson said.
Drifts on the road were 4 feet high just west of West Fargo this morning, Thoreson said at 8 a.m., adding he expected the road to be closed soon.
"As soon as they make a pass, it's closing in behind them," he said of the snowplows.
No serious accidents had been reported, he said.
"I'm hoping people just kind of hunker down and ride this thing out at their homes," he said.
Interstate 94 remains closed between Fargo and Jamestown.
In Fargo, a water main break flooded 10th Street at Seventh Avenue North with water up to a foot deep in the gutters and 6 inches deep across the street, said Reid Graf, the city's water department supervisor.
City crews got the water flowing down storm sewer drains and were moving slush off the roadway as they attempted to shut off the main about 7:45 a.m., Graf said. Age and weather both likely contributed to the break, he said.
Traffic was being diverted. One lane of 10th Street may open this morning, but it will probably be mid- to late afternoon before the road is fully opened, Graf said.
The Fargo Public Works Department said it's becoming difficult to keep primary and secondary roads clear, and some may be closed if public safety becomes a concern. Residential roads won't be plowed until storm conditions improve and all primary routes are in good condition.
Dozens of metro area business were closing.
"Business operations should be advised that throughout the day weather conditions are going to becoming increasingly worse and travel will become nearly impossible for employees trying to return home in afternoon hours," a Public Works news release stated.
Any stranded vehicles found on city snow emergency routes or other primary routes will be towed at the owner's expense, the release stated.
The Cass County Courthouse will open at noon today.
All morning and afternoon appearances scheduled at Fargo Municipal Court were canceled. Court offices will remain open to provide other services.
The city of Fargo announced that all residential and commercial garbage pickup will be suspended at 11 a.m.; the landfill will also be closed at 11 a.m.
Metro Area Transit will cancel all bus service starting at 11:15 a.m. Storm detours will be implemented at 10:15 a.m. Detour maps are available online at www.matbus.com .
All Fargo Public Library locations are closing at 11 a.m.
Highway 46 near Litchville in Barnes County, N.D., was closed after two jack-knifed semis blocked the road.
Tonight's Fargodome concert by the Beatles tribute act, Rain, has been rescheduled for Wednesday night at 7:30.