Crews busy clearing roads after Midwest blizzard
Thursday, March 12th 2009, 12:30 pm
By: News 9
FARGO, N.D. (AP) -- Highway crews labored Wednesday to carve through snowdrifts that a blizzard piled up 10 feet high as hundreds of stalled motorists waited in bitter cold.
The storm was linked to at least four deaths and shut down numerous schools and businesses Tuesday.
Interstate 29 was reopened Wednesday from the Canadian border across North Dakota to Watertown, S.D., a distance of about 280 miles, highway officials said. Authorities believe as many as 10 truckers formed a convoy and drove on the closed road early Wednesday, but the state highway patrol said troopers were too busy to pursue the rogue drivers.
"It's been a trying 48 hours but to totally disregard something like that and put everybody's safety at risk is discouraging," Highway Patrol Capt. Jim Prockniak said.
Interstate 94 was reopened in both directions after hundreds of vehicles lined up Wednesday to be allowed on the highway west of Fargo.
Prockniak had said the road had "drifts as high as 10 feet in some areas."
The temperature at Fargo was 1 degree below zero Wednesday afternoon, with a wind chill factor of 21 below, the National Weather Service said.
Schools, clinics and businesses in Fargo were gradually reopening after being snowbound Tuesday.
Snow accumulations included 13.5 inches at Red Lake Falls, Minn., according to the weather service.
Fargo's MeritCare, North Dakota's largest hospital, closed its clinics Tuesday and notified patients that elective surgery Wednesday would have to be rescheduled.
Slippery roads were blamed for two deaths in North Dakota and one each in Minnesota and South Dakota.