Travel advisories, road closures

The wind blew, snow flurries punctuated the day and the North Dakota Department of Transportation was busy issuing multiple travel advisories throughout the day Sunday. The reason was another fast-moving winter storm system that tore across the state starting late Saturday and continuing into nightfall Sunday.

The National Weather Service issued a blizzard warning late Saturday. At 4:05 p.m. Sunday the NWS repeated the warning: “Blizzard conditions continue across the region and will continue into the night. Strong winds gusting over 50 miles per hour will continue across the entire state.”

Crosby had the distinction of reporting the highest wind gust in the state Sunday 68 mph. Winds at Garrison were clocked at 64 mph, Watford City at 60 mph and Stanley reported 55 mph gusts. The Minot International Airport and Minot Air Force Base each checked in with peak gusts of 53 mph.

Sunday began with the NDDOT issuing “travel advisories” but conditions soon worsened. North Dakota Highway Patrol received numerous reports of vehicles leaving roadways, presumably due to white-out conditions. The situation became so bleak shortly after noon that NDDOT issued a closure for U.S. Highway 83 from Bismarck to Minot, Interstate 94 from Bismarck to Fargo and I-29 from South Dakota to the Canadian border. Citing “multiple accidents and near-zero visibility”, NDDOT issued “no travel” advisories for nearly all of the remaining western two-thirds of the state.

County sheriff’s offices responded to the blizzard-like conditions by issuing “no travel” advisories as well. Among the counties doing so were Ward, Pierce, Wells, Mercer, Oliver, McKenzie and Dunn.

According to the NWS, the blizzard warning was scheduled to expire at 9 p.m. Sunday However, the wind is expected to gust in excess of 20 mph in the Minot region today while temperatures were projected to dip to nearly 20 below zero tonight.