BISMARCK (AP) — Blizzard conditions that started the week in North Dakota have given way to record cold on top of the mountains of snow built up over the past month.
Grand Forks reported a low of 37 below early Tuesday. The National Weather Service said it was 6 degrees colder than the mark for the date set in 1979.
Monday’s blizzard dropped about 5 inches of snow in Minot and 4 in Bismarck, along with winds gusting to more than 50 mph in the western and central parts of the state. It added to the headaches of residents and crews working to clear streets and roads from a record December snowfall.
North Dakota Transportation Department spokeswoman Billie Jo Lorius said 17 crashes involving snowplows have been recorded so far this winter.
“We average about 12 a winter, and we’ve already had 17 and it’s only January,” Lorius said.
No one has been killed in the crashes, Lorius said.
“The crashes usually involve people running into the back of snowplows,” Lorius said. The most recent crash was Monday, she said.
Lorius said a state truck pushing snow and loaded with sand and salt costs about $8 a mile to operate.
In Bismarck, classic hot rods were crushed when a roof collapsed under weight of snow.
The owner of Skovy’s Autoplex, Steven Jaskoviak, said nine mint condition muscle cars from the 1960s and 1970s were crushed over the weekend. He pegged the value of the cars at more than $300,000.
“Those can be replaced,” Jaskoviak said Monday. “But by the grace of God, no one was hurt. We had more than 100 people in the showroom on Saturday, and if it would have happened then, there would have been loss of life.”
County and city road departments have had little time to clear away the snow, because it keeps coming.
“Four-wheel drives are useless — people are just snowed in,” Rhonda Woodhams, the office manager for the Williams County highway department, said Monday. “People are calling in saying they’re out of milk and diapers for their kids, or they have doctor appointments they need to get to. We’re doing our best. And we don’t need no more snow.”
The National Weather Service said the snow total for the winter as a whole is far from a record, but it hit earlier than usual. The snow in December set records in Bismarck, Fargo and Grand Forks, each with more than 30 inches.
“Normally, March is our heaviest snow month, but this year, December happened to get it,” said meteorologist Len Peterson, at the National Weather Service in Bismarck.
Other lows early Tuesday included 29 below in Devils Lake, 28 below in Fargo and 24 below in Jamestown. In the central and western parts of the state, Minot reported 7 below, Bismarck 1 below and Williston 2 above zero.