Southwest North Dakota gets first taste of winter
Southwest North Dakota got an early taste of winter not far into fall on Friday.
Anywhere from 1 to 6 inches of snow was reported between the South Dakota border and Dickinson by Friday evening as southwest North Dakota caught the tail end of a winter weather system that blasted much of Wyoming and western South Dakota with a blizzard.
In some areas, power outages were reported.
No-travel advisories and travel alerts were in place for much of the area on Friday afternoon. It prompted postponements of high school football games and forced drivers to quickly get reaccustomed to driving in winter conditions.
Sgt. Chris Messer of the North Dakota Highway Patrol reported six accidents between Dickinson and Interstate 94's Exit 90 west of Richardton, including a jackknifed semi truck and a collision between two cars. He said many of the accidents happened because people were driving too fast in the passing lane, which had a layer of slushy snow.
"If you happen to be going too fast and hit one of those ruts, it'll push you around a bit," Messer said.
Michael Mathews, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Bismarck, said areas near I-94 were expected to top out at only a few inches of accumulated snow by Saturday morning, while areas near the South Dakota border could receive up to a foot. Much of the snowfall melted as it hit the ground.
Slope Electric Cooperative in New England reported "several" power outages throughout its system Friday afternoon due to heavy and wet snow. It services Adams, Bowman, Hettinger and Slope counties.
Slope Electric's website stated: "Transmission and distribution lines are both affected. Please install generators as it may be a lengthy outage. Thank you for your patience."
At Runnings in Dickinson, Alabama native and Utah resident Ron Jackson was shopping for warm work gloves and other winter-weather gear. Nonetheless, he laughed about the conditions and called it, "child's play."
The assistant foreman for Rocky Mountain Fabrication, a Salt Lake City-based company building tanks at the Dakota Prairie Refinery, said he is living in his Chevrolet Silverado pickup while he works in Dickinson. He has been here for two weeks.
"I refuse to pay the money," Jackson said of high rent and hotel prices in the city, adding he has a heated blanket that plugs into a cigarette lighter and a 2,000-watt inverter power pack in the pickup. "I'm a veteran. It's just another warzone. You make due until things get better."
Nancy Nunez, 30, and Prince Minter, 35, were wearing a sweatshirt and a light jacket Friday afternoon as they raced into Dickinson's Walmart. They have been living in the area for a couple of months.
Nunez, a preschool teacher originally from Southern California, laughed and said she wanted to go back after Friday's weather.
"It's way too cold, I'm freezing," said Minter, a native of Ghana, through chattering teeth.
The weather is expected to improve Saturday, Mathews said. Forecasts call for the system to be out of the area by midday Saturday, which should see high temperatures in the mid-40s.