Blizzard Strands Hundreds in NDA powerful blizzard barreled through much of North Dakota on Friday, stranding hundreds of motorists along frozen roads and prompting the governor to enlist the help of National Guard troops to reach some of them.
By: Associated Press,
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A powerful blizzard barreled through much of North Dakota on Friday, stranding hundreds of motorists along frozen roads and prompting the governor to enlist the help of National Guard troops to reach some of them.
Motorists flooded 911 switchboards all afternoon to report they had veered off an icy road, gotten into an accident or simply pulled over because they couldn't see through the wind-blown snow, said Greg Wilz, the state's director of Homeland Security.
"We can't get to all the calls," Wilz told The Associated Press.
Gov. Jack Dalrymple issued a winter storm emergency and directed the National Guard to assist.
Wilz said Guard personnel using large trucks would sweep the major highways from west to east looking for stranded motorists once conditions improved.
"We have to wait. There's no sense putting more vehicles on roads when people can't see in front of their nose."
The Department of Transportation closed Interstate 94 between Valley City and Fargo and Interstate 29 from the Canadian border to the South Dakota border. Highway 83 was closed between Minot and the South Dakota border, and U.S. Highway 2 was closed from Grand Forks to Devils Lake.
"You can't travel now. It's just impossible," said Highway Patrol Sgt. Patrick Hudson, who was heading to the scene of a reported 10-vehcile accident on Highway 83.
"We're just swamped at this point," he told the Bismarck Tribune.
The National Weather Service received reports of 63 mph winds in Halliday and Garrison and 58 mph wind around Bismarck, NWS meteorologist Bill Abeling told the Tribune.
Stutsman County Emergency Manager Jerry Bergquist said 100 to 150 vehicles were stranded on Interstate 94 west of Jamestown near Cleveland and Medina.
He told the Jamestown Sun that vehicles were being checked and stranded motorists were being taken to shelters.
Wilz said motorists may have been caught off guard because the storm arrived sooner and brought more snow than expected.
Conditions began improving in the far west of the state late Friday afternoon, and they were expected to improve statewide by morning, he said.
The National Weather Service issued a blizzard warning for most of the state. It forecast winds of 25 to 40 miles hour and snowfall of 3-5 inches in the Devils Lake Basin, 2-4 inches in the northern Red River Valley, and 1-2 inches in the Fargo and Valley City areas.