Capitol, government offices, schools close due to blizzard

April 12, 2022 GMT

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A blizzard has led to the closure of the North Dakota Capitol and other state facilities in the Bismarck area, as well as scores of schools. colleges, government offices and highways Tuesday.

The National Weather Service issued a blizzard warning for most of western and central North Dakota where up to 2 feet (60 centimeters) of snow is forecast through Thursday. Locally higher amounts up to 30 inches (80 centimeters) are possible.

“This is nutso,” Karley Gosch, of Mandan, said as she braved the strong winds and pelting snow while walking across the city’s Main Street.

No travel was advised in the southwest and south central regions and authorities closed Interstate 94 from the Montana border to Jamestown, a distance of about 260 miles (418.43 kilometers). A 50-mile stretch of U.S. Highway 52 was shut down from Jamestown to Carrington. Officials said the conditions were life-threatening.

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“This is going to be historic for some areas,” said Jason Anglin, lead meteorologist for the weather service’s Bismarck office. “It’s going to be tough to travel, the impact to the ranching community is going to be big, even the impact to the power community — there’s going to be a lot of water in this snow; it could bring down trees and bring down power lines.”

Gov. Doug Burgum directed the state closures, noting that the Emergency Operations Center has been activated and is coordinating with partners and local emergency managers statewide to ensure that resources, including search and rescue, are available.

Bismarck and Mandan public schools were among those closed Tuesday. Schools sent students home with laptops in preparation for several snowbound days of virtual instruction, the Bismarck Tribune reported.

Bismarck State College and United Tribes Technical College in Bismarck canceled classes through Thursday. Dickinson State University will move to virtual instruction Tuesday through Thursday. Williston State College will close for the week at midday Tuesday.

Not everyone in the Capital City was deterred by conditions. The Bismarck City Commission held its regularly scheduled meeting at downtown building Tuesday evening despite numerous vehicles becoming stuck in the streets, including a semi-trailer truck.

The nasty weather moved into northeastern North Dakota late in the day, where the Highway Patrol said a 46-year-old man suffered “moderate injuries” when he rear-ended a snowplow in Grand Forks, near the Minnesota border. The patrol reported blizzard conditions at the time.

The University of North Dakota in Grand Forks called off classes for Wednesday.

A sliver of southeastern North Dakota, including the state’s largest city, Fargo, was expected to avoid heavy snow, the National Weather Service said. Flights at the city’s airport were arriving and departing mostly at scheduled times.

The blizzard warning extended into eastern Montana and the northwestern corner of South Dakota. Several schools were closed in both states. The storm’s timing couldn’t be worse for ranchers in all three states worried about spring calving.