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Dickinson experiences 10 inches of snow, icy road conditions on Monday

A winter storm warning is in effect for most of western and central North Dakota through Wednesday evening, according to the National Weather Service.

A winter storm warning is in effect for most of western and central North Dakota through Wednesday evening, according to the National Weather Service.

The area, including Dickinson, Watford City, Williston, is also under a travel alert due to snow and blowing snow creating reduced visibility, as well as some areas of compacted snow or ice on roadways, according to the North Dakota Department of Transportation.  

A travel alert means that motorists can still travel in these areas, but should be advised of rapidly changing conditions. The NDDOT encourages motorists to reduce speeds and drive according to the conditions.

Approximately 10 inches of snow had accumulated in Dickinson Monday as of 1:30 p.m. Mountain time, according to the NWS.

This is the first major winter storm of the season for the area, and with unusually warm temperatures, it has caused a unique problem for road workers.

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“It’s pretty sticky stuff,” Al Heiser, Stark County road superintendent said. “I think the biggest problem was the pavement was so warm.  You know on Saturday we had temperatures in the 60s and almost 40s yesterday, so that pavement was so warm when that stuff hit so of course it melted and now she’s packed pretty tight with a lot of ice on there.”

Heiser suggests that commuters stay patient and drive cautiously.

“People are just going to have to have some patience because it’s pretty slushy out there,” he said.

He reminded people to drive slowly, be cautious of their surrounding and to never try to pass someone or follow too closely near a plow.

“If the plows are out definitely keep a distance because the plower doesn’t know you’re back there, and a lot of times we create snow fog,” he said.

While the snow and ice might be a nuisance, Heiser said the farmers in the area are thankful for the moisture.

“The snow will be beneficial, this country side was getting pretty dry,” he said. “It’ll pay dividends. It might be a little disruptive for travel. The commuting public might not appreciate it, but I think the farmers and ranchers will think this is pretty good stuff.”

Kurt Froelich, North Dakota State University extension service agent, said that the snow the area has been receiving will be a positive for people in the agriculture community.

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“Generally for our population out here, the ag produces, moisture is always a welcome sign,” he said.

Froelich said the cattle feed lots, which have been dusty from lack of moisture, will also benefit from the amount of snow and the wetness of it.

“The moisture is melting underneath,” he said. “The ground temp, we just haven’t really been cold enough to freeze things yet. This moisture is going to go down. This snow is going to go down.”

The livestock will also be able to bear the grunt of the elements, Froelich said.

“These cows, if they are out there winter grazing on some winter crops, some stubble corn stalks, whatever it might be, they forage pretty good,” he said. “This stuff out here is pretty loose, light, there is moisture in it, and those cows will get through it.”

While farmers might be enjoying the moisture this winter storm is bringing, Froelich said it might cause problems hauling their grains and seeds.

“The only thing this is hampering from a producer's standpoint is if they had intentions of hauling some grain but you know the roads aren’t conducive right now,” he said.  “They are slippery. They’re slick.”

Road conditions can be checked and monitored from the North Dakota Department of Transportation by visiting the website at www.dot.nd.gov or signing up for alerts.

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On the website people can click on the red email symbol on the top right of the page next to the social media icons which will send them to GovDelivery.

GovDelivery is a web-based email subscription management system that allows users to enroll in specific alerts via email and text message.

Jamie Olson, spokesman from NDDOT said that she encourages travelers to sign up for the message center under the GovDelivery which focuses on winter travel.

Olson added that snow plowers in the area will keep an up-to-date analysis of the road conditions to relay back to NDDOT.

“If conditions are worsening or it’s looking like we need to issue some travel warnings, then they will be the ones that kind of bring that up,” she said.

This is the first time NDDOT has issued any travel advisories for the season said Olson, which covered north central, central and northwest North Dakota.

Olson said that even if an advisory is issued or not issued, people should still be cautious of road conditions.

“Usually in town travel is a lot different than a rural highway,” she said. “So when we issue no travel alert that would pertain to state highways so the in town conditions might be a little different.”

This isn’t the first time Heiser said that citizens have dealt with the snow and he, along with 15 other plow operators, will keep working diligently to make the roads safe for travel.

“It’s going to create some grief but I think we’ll just pretty much have to deal with it,” he said.

Related Topics: WEATHERDICKINSON
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