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Snowed in

By Staff | Dec 2, 2016

A Rugby resident attempts to clear snow from a driveway Wednesday evening. On Wednesday, Willow City received an estimated 2.5 inches of snow, while Esmond received 3.5 inches.

Winter storm Blanche significantly hit many parts of North Dakota beginning the evening of Sunday, Nov. 27, and continued through Wednesday, Nov. 30.

Total snowfall reached two feet in certain areas.

Total snowfall in Rugby totaled roughly eight inches, according to KZZJ Radio. Between Sunday and Tuesday, seven inches of snow had been accumulated. Another inch of snow was added over the course of Tuesday night.

A no travel advisory was issued at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 29 for Williston, Dickinson, Minot, Valley City and surrounding areas. Interstate 94 from Mandan to Dickinson was closed at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday due to the roadway being blocked with heavy snow, extreme ice and blowing and drifting snow.

The no travel advisory was lifted at 5:55 a.m. on Wednesday, although a travel alert remained in effect throughout the day and into the evening hours, according to the North Dakota Department of Transportation.

I-94 was opened to traffic on Wednesday at 8 a.m.

Travelers in and out of Minot International Airport were hindered Monday and Tuesday, as flight cancellations and delays caused frustrations after the holiday weekend. Snow piles caused multiple vehicles to become stuck in the airport parking lots on Tuesday afternoon, blocking exiting traffic.

Schools in Rugby and surrounding areas were closed both Tuesday and Wednesday due to winter storm Blanche. What started as a two-hour delayed start both days in Rugby, quickly turned to cancellations before 9 a.m.

Rugby Public School District Superintendent Mike McNeff said that road conditions, temperature and visibility went into deciding to cancel school. “(Tuesday and Wednesday), the road conditions were terrible,” he said. “We don’t want kids driving when the roads are dangerous, and they were pretty dangerous (on those days).”

The decision to close school ultimately sits on McNeff’s shoulders; however, he does talk with other superintendents in the area to come up with an overall decision. The area superintendents get up early on storm days to look at road and weather reports before making a final decision.

“It’s never fun to use two storm days in November, but we have a couple days built into our calendar, and we’ll decide where to put those. We’ll just kind of see what the rest of the winter brings. It’s never an easy decision, but the roads were just too bad, in my opinion (this time),” McNeff said.

Road conditions in Rugby were stable by Wednesday evening, seeing mostly slush and wet areas.

As of 5:55 p.m., U.S. Highway 2 from Minot to Rugby was loaded with scattered ice and compacted snow, according to NDDOT’s travel information map.

Rugby resident Steph Hallof traveled from Rugby to Minot and back Wednesday evening, citing that roads to Minot were snowpacked and icy. “The speed was 40 mph on the way home, but the highway department had done a wonderful job of clearing the roads. They were back to normal with only a few patches of ice here and there,” she said.

Other areas of the state were highly affected, including areas near Bismarck where Dakota Access Pipeline protestors were issued an emergency evacuation order, given by Gov. Jack Dalrymple. The order was due to the winter storm and extremely cold temperatures, according to the governor’s office. The order maintains indefinitely and effects lands managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Snow plows were out most of Wednesday afternoon and into Wednesday evening, helping with travel, although the travel alert was still in effect.

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