Winter brings another blast
By Brandi Jewett
and Robb Jeffries
Forum News Service
GRAND FORK -- Blizzard Fiona shut down Grand Forks County -- or at least its offices.
Both county and city offices closed Monday morning, along with area schools and businesses because of the storm. The Herald named the storm Fiona, which is Celtic for "white, fair."
Fiona dropped about 4.6 inches on the Grand Forks area by 1 p.m. and snow continued to blow around the city throughout the afternoon, according to meteorologist Dan Riddle with the National Weather Service's Grand Forks office.
"There's always a little bit of give and take," Riddle said of measuring snow in high wind.
The weather service forecast 4 to 8 inches of snow for northeast North Dakota.
Central and northwest Minnesota saw even higher snow totals with 6 to 10 inches predicted for the areas. Bagley, Minn., received 7.5 inches and Baudette, Minn., saw 5.5 inches by 12:30 p.m.
High winds accompanied the snow with the strongest gusts recorded by the weather service being 48 mph in Gwinner, N.D., and Tenney, Minn.
It was a different picture on this date last year when Grand Forks broke the high temperature record with a thermometer reading of 74. Today's high is predicted to be 11.
While temperatures won't quite make to the 70s, the remainder of the week should be clear with highs reaching the 30s by Sunday, according to the weather service.
Blowing snow, high winds and roads covered in ice and snow made travel treacherous throughout the region Monday.
The North Dakota Department of Transportation advised no travel in the eastern part of the state, which remained in effect overnight Monday. A no-travel advisory also was issued for the majority of roads in the northwestern part of Minnesota by the Minnesota Department of Transportation.
By 5 p.m., most of the roads in Grand Forks were relatively clear, according to Grand Forks Police Sgt. Douglas Wright.
"The roads seem good," he said. "The alleys are the tough part, but the main roads and side roads should be pretty clear. The road crews have been doing their job."
Wright said there were only about five accidents reported throughout the day. "It's almost typical for this time of year," he said.
Students traveling back to UND from spring break destinations were asked to use caution by university officials. Classes were canceled on the campus Monday, but operations were set to resume at 11 p.m. that night.
Grand Fork International Airport canceled or delayed several morning flights because of weather conditions. Afternoon flights to locations outside of the storm's path were able to depart. The highest wind gust recorded at the airport hit 43 mph.
Limited visibility led to several agencies taking their snowplows off the roads until snow stopped.
The Grand Forks County Highway Department pulled its snowplows off the roads shortly after 8 a.m. Plows in southeast North Dakota were removed from the road at about 7 a.m.
NDDOT plows in northeast North Dakota were to be taken off the roads at 7 p.m. Monday and will resume clearing snow today.
Towing services also were out in full force Monday afternoon, but sticking mostly to calls in town.
"All of the out-of-town roads are terrible," said an employee with DeMers Interstate Cenex. "We've got about 10 calls backed up for out-of-town jobs. We'll have to head out there tomorrow to do them, or maybe tonight if it clears up."
He said most of the calls the two Cenex towing locations in Grand Forks have gotten are for dead batteries and cars stuck in parking lots, and all five of their trucks had been in use throughout the day.