ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Digging out on track across North Dakota, officials say

GRAND FORKS, N.D.--Depending on where you live, it may take city and county workers more time to dig you out from the holiday weekend blizzard wake. City and county employees across the state were out as soon as early Monday morning clearing road...

Madori Griffin climbs over a snowbank to get to Sanford Hospital early Monday morning as a winter blizzard rages in the Bismarck area. Griffin who was going to work in the hospital's intensive care unit said her car was snowed in and making a mile walk to the hospital was her only option in the traffic-deserted streets. Photo by Tom Stromme / Bismarck Tribune
Madori Griffin climbs over a snowbank to get to Sanford Hospital early Monday morning as a winter blizzard rages in the Bismarck area. Photo by Tom Stromme / Bismarck Tribune

GRAND FORKS, N.D.-Depending on where you live, it may take city and county workers more time to dig you out from the holiday weekend blizzard wake.

City and county employees across the state were out as soon as early Monday morning clearing roads and streets for travelers. Parts of northeastern North Dakota, including Grand Forks, were expecting up to 18 inches of snow, but the city was spared the brunt of the storm - which dropped most of its snow on northwestern and central North Dakota, according to the National Weather Service. The official NWS snowfall count for Grand Forks was 3.5 inches, while Fargo had only about a half inch..

Snowfall amounts varied across the Red River Valley, with parts of southeastern North Dakota and central Minnesota only seeing trace amounts. The farther northwest on the North Dakota map, the higher the snow totals.

However, an ice storm brought freezing rain to the Grand Forks area before snow fell, said Mark Aubol, the city's streets and facility manager. Crews pretreated the streets Thursday and Friday, which helped keep the ice from sticking to the pavement, he said. Workers also were out with sand trucks over the weekend.

"I think it really helped us when it came to plow because it didn't stick to the pavement," he said.

ADVERTISEMENT

Though snowfall varied across Grand Forks from 4 to 6 inches, Aubol said, crews were able to hit the roads about early Monday to clear the streets by Monday evening. Now it's just a matter of going around to widen snow tracks and clear obstructing snow on sidewalks so the line of sight for drivers isn't limited, he said.

Workers in Cavalier and Walsh counties appeared to be keeping up with snow removal on county roads, officials said. The weather service recorded 8 to 18 inches of snow fell in Cavalier County, though plows have been out in full force clearing roads, said Karen Kempert, emergency manager and 911 systems coordinator for Cavalier County. It could take a couple of days to clear township roads, so residents should call their township divisions to see when their roads will be cleared.

Crews in Walsh County, which saw between 8 and 12 inches of snow, were expected to have roads passable by the end of Tuesday, said Sharon Lipsh, superintendent of the Walsh County Highway Department.

"We shouldn't have any issues clearing roads," she said.

She said it may take longer to clear streets in larger cities because workers have to haul the snow out in trucks, adding that snow can be pushed to the side in county areas.

Bismarck, which recorded 12.5 inches of snow, remained under a limited travel advisory Tuesday. Snow emergency routes were plowed and were open with limited use of lanes, according to the city's Facebook page. The city's Public Works offices were closed, and garbage routes were canceled Tuesday due to impassable roads.

"Residents are asked to give snowplow operators enough time to get through the residential areas and not to travel unless absolutely necessary," the post stated.

Bismarck has roughly 67,000 residents.

ADVERTISEMENT

In Devils Lake, which had about 10 inches of snowfall, city crews were short of plows, according to a report from KZZY Radio. The city of 7,200 residents is asking the public to be patient, adding it could take all week to fully dig out.

After seeing more than 40 inches of snow this winter, including the 16 inches that fell over the holiday, Minot had to hire private contractors to clear its 550 miles of city streets, according to a news release. Plows and sanders there will be in operation 24/7 until all roadways have been cleared - but the extra contractors still might not be enough to dig out the city of more than 46,000 people, the release stated. Minot Public Works Director Dan Jonasson asked residents to help if they can.

"We need all the help we can get now," he said. "We know people need to get out; we're trying to allow that to happen as quickly as possible."

Other counties hit with more snow may take a couple of days to dig out. Overall, Benson County received 12 to 18 inches of snow, with Esmond, a city of about 100 residents, buried by 18 inches.

"It's going to take a few days for sure," Benson County Emergency Manager Scott Todahl said of plowing county roads. "We had a lot of problems with drifting."

He added the county is getting a lot of calls for plowing. People may need to be patient as county workers catch up.

"Everybody needs to be patient," Lipsh said. "We don't send our plows out there unless it is safe."

What To Read Next
With HB 1205, Reps Mike Lefor and Vicky Steiner would prohibit "sexually explicit content" in public libraries. Facing an uphill battle, the pair remain united in their commitment to see it passed.
The North Dakota Highway Patrol is investigating the crash.
City accountant reports increases in oil impact, sales tax, hospitality tax and occupancy tax revenue during the Jan. 24 meeting, commission approves two policy amendments.
Testimony to the top House committee from a convicted attendee of the Jan. 6 rally focused on the "inhumane" treatment of Jan. 6 defendants. The committee rejected a resolution on the matter 12-0.