Blizzard Forces Closure of I-29, I-94 in Most of Eastern ND; Several Accidents, Some Power Outages ReportedInterstates are closed in eastern North Dakota and no travel is advised in west-central Minnesota because of the blizzard-like conditions that caused several major accidents this afternoon. Blizzard forces closure of I-29, I-94 in most of eastern ND; several accidents, some power outages also reported
By: Forum Communications Report, WDAY
FARGO - Interstates are closed in eastern North Dakota and no travel is advised in west-central Minnesota because of the blizzard-like conditions that caused several major accidents this afternoon.
Eastbound and westbound lanes of Interstate 94 between Fargo and Jamestown closed before 2 p.m.
Northbound and southbound lanes of Interstate 29 between Grand Forks and the South Dakota border closed at 4 p.m.
Across the river, the Minnesota Department of Transportation advises no unnecessary travel in the west-central Minnesota counties of Mahnomen, Clay, Becker, Wilkin, Otter Tail, Traverse, Grant, Douglas, Big Stone, Stevens, Pope and Swift.
MNDOT said near white-out conditions in some areas are causing blowing and drifting snow. Icy road conditions also are causing hazardous driving conditions.
Road conditions are expected to severely deteriorate when night falls through Friday morning, MNDOT said.
No interstate or state highways had been closed in west-central Minnesota, as of 4:15 p.m.
Air travel is at a standstill, as almost all flights in and out of Fargo's Hector International Airport have been canceled for tonight.
Accidents were plaguing drivers traveling on both I-94 and I-29 earlier this afternoon as the storm moved in – bringing wind, snow and reduced visibility.
An accident this afternoon off I-29 at mile marker 114 near Buxton, N.D., blocked the southbound lanes causing traffic to back up. Cars were forced to turn around at the Buxton exit, according to NDDOT.
Buxton is 56 miles north of Fargo.
Also, a multi-vehicle accident on I-94 brought traffic to a standstill between Mapleton and Raymond, about 10 miles west of Fargo.
NDDOT maintenance supervisor Bruce Nord said the crash involved "maybe 100" vehicles.
North Dakota Highway Patrol Sgt. Dave Wolf said the accident scene was about a quarter-mile long, and he estimated a dozen or so vehicles were involved, but he noted he couldn't see the entire scene.
"We're blocked. We can't get through because of a semi that's blocking the entire road. Until we can get him moved out of the way, we don't even know what's beyond that," he said.
At least two people were transported by ambulance, but the extent of their injuries wasn't known, Wolf said.
The Highway Patrol is advising no travel, he said.
"Visibility is zero. Roads are glare ice. It's 10, maybe 15 mph. If you have to stop quick, you're sliding at that speed," he said.
Meanwhile, some rural towns were experiencing power outages today.
Amenia, N.D., was without power, as of about 3:30 p.m. Crews were working to fix it but were being delayed by the severe weather, said Otter Tail Power Co. spokeswoman Cris Kling.
Mapleton and rural Casselton had no power for nearly 3 hours this afternoon while transmission lines were repaired, but power has been restored, Kling said.
Xcel Energy has reported no major outages.