Winter storm advisories went out Thursday evening for the eastern part of North Dakota, as the Twin Towns area saw rain all day. By Friday morning, the rain had turned to snow and fell throughout the day. Snowfall amounts for the entire event are expected to range from 4 to 8 inches locally, the National Weather Service forecast Friday afternoon.
Highways were closed as the day went on Friday due to whiteout conditions with temperatures hovering in the low 30s. The North Dakota Department of Transportation had closed I-94 from Bismarck to Fargo by 5:30 p.m. Friday. I-29 from Grand Forks to the Canada border was closed earlier in the afternoon, and U.S. Highway 2 was closed from Rugby to Larimore. Friday evening a No Travel Advisory was issued for all of southeast North Dakota.
North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum issued a state of emergency in response to the storm.
The Devils Lake basin took the brunt of the storm as the system slowly circled over it all day Friday. By Friday afternoon, 2 feet of snow had fallen there, with more expected overnight and into Saturday.
The North Dakota Highway Patrol was busy all day Friday helping stranded motorists. One rescue was a bus with 42 people on board.
A winter storm warning remained in effect until 1 p.m. Saturday, with snow and areas of blowing snow. Temperatures Saturday were forecast in the low 30s, dropping to 28 overnight. Sunday’s high is expected to be at 35, with a slow warm up over the next week.
Snowplows were reportedly having a hard time plowing the wet and heavy snow to the west of the Red River Valley Friday. There was tree and structural damage from the heavy snow load, as well as disruptions to agricultural and livestock activities, the weather service reported.
Ditches are full of water in many areas, which adds to the danger for people trying to travel.
A flood warning was also in effect up and down the valley, including Abercrombie on the Wild Rice River and Kindred on the Sheyenne River. River levels are expected to continue to rise at many locations due to the storm system dumping plentiful precipitation across the region.
Eastern North Dakota is expected to see more snow than rain which will allow for a slower response into area rivers, the weather service reported. Northwestern Minnesota was expected to see more precipitation in the form of rain which will be quicker to run off into the river systems and exacerbate ongoing flooding issues.
Authorities advise citizens to not travel through flooded areas, take steps to protect life and property, and those who live in the Red River Basin should monitor river levels while the river is in or near flood stage.