Major snowstorm hits most of North Dakota, resets winter

Saturday was a beautiful day over much of North Dakota. Sunday brought with it a warning that Saturday’s sneak peek at spring was about to become a poke in the eye.

By early Monday morning, no travel advisories had been issued for much of the western and central portions of the state. Snow was piling up rapidly on roadways, sidewalks and patios that had been free of the white stuff a few hours earlier.

Minot Public Schools called off classes for the day shortly after 5:30 a.m. Monday. The Minot Air Force Base told non-essential personnel to stay home. Sheriff’s departments in Williams, Divide, McKenzie and Renville counties were among the growing list advising no travel. Most motorists couldn’t get out of their driveways anyway. Those who did quickly discovered why travel was difficult.

The snow that began after dark Sunday increased in intensity in the Minot region early Monday morning and continued to fall well after sunrise. Winds increased, too, enough to begin drifting snow in some areas, which added to the work needed to clear roadways and open driveways.

By late Monday morning reports of snowfall totals began to be received by the National Weather Service. Crosby reported 6 inches of the white stuff, Stanley 8, Bottineau 6.5, Minot Air Force Base 10 and most reporting points reported “heavy snow still falling.” Shortly before noon Monday the NWS issued a “Blizzard Warning” for the northwest and west central portions of the state. Official snowfall totals from the storm will be compiled today.

In Minot the amount of morning traffic was much less than usual, due in part to the closure of the schools, but also because a number of people encountered more snow than they expected when they got up Monday morning.

“I’m quite surprised to see how much we got overnight,” said Troy Erickson, Minot. “I’ve been here my whole life. I should be used to it by now, right?”

Erickson had cleared the driveway of his northwest Minot home with the

use of a snowblower. At

mid-morning Monday he was across the street from his residence, helping out a neighbor.

“He had hip surgery, so I’m doing his in case he needs to get out,” explained Erickson. “It looks like we got 6 to 8 inches.”

While the snow in the driveway was heavy, the snowblower was still able to toss it out of the way. Underneath the snow, particularly at the lower end of the driveway and into the street, was an inch or two of slush.

Minoter Todd Carlson got up early Monday morning so he wouldn’t be late to work at Minot AFB.

“I got up about 5 and at 6:30 I was told to stay home. It’s a lovely day,” said Carlson.

Carlson and his wife, Mary, were using shovels to clear the driveway of their northwest Minot home of snow about 11 a.m. Monday. The crisp edge to the snow depth at the edge of the double-wide driveway was evidence that a snowblower had been used earlier.

“It’s our second time. We snowblowed this morning and we’re back at it again,” explained Carlson. “We’re trying to stay ahead of the snow. We went to bed last night anticipating it and it happened. About 9 inches so far.”

“We’ll probably shovel it again later this afternoon and maybe tonight, if we have too,” added Mary Carlson while lifting a shovel full of heavy snow. “We were born and raised here so we are used to it. Spring is right around the corner, so maybe that’s why we’re smiling now. We know it’s not too far off.”

Spring officially begins March 20, but Minoters know better than to expect too much in terms of nice weather. Whether or not Monday’s storm is the last big one for the month remains to be seen. Minot’s snowfall average for March is 7 inches, an amount that has already been exceeded. In addition, the state is famous for hosting blizzard-like conditions during March basketball tournament time, and those weekends are still to come.

Ilana Collison of Minot is new to the region and was doing her best to enjoy Monday’s snow. The England native was out and about in north Minot late morning when the snow was still falling. She was accompanied by her 6-month-old son, Tyler, and her 10-year-old dog, Stark.

“My dog was crying to go out,” said Collison. “Irrespective of the fact that we’ve had a pretty good dump of snow, we’re going out on a walk to get some fresh air.”

Across the street Elven Sanders was about halfway finished clearing a wide driveway with the assistance of his churning snowblower.

“I keep it ready,” laughed Sanders when asked about the late season storm. “I can go a long ways with it.”