BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Some schools and offices closed Wednesday and motorists struggled to get to their destinations as the second blizzard in less than a week tore through the Red River Valley of eastern North Dakota.
The National Weather Service issued a blizzard warning for eastern North Dakota through Wednesday afternoon. Transportation officials early Wednesday advised motorists to use caution in eastern and south central North Dakota. A no-travel advisory was issued for northeastern North Dakota but lifted midmorning.
"Anybody that has attempted to travel any distance has turned around and come back home," said Bev Paulson, who works at the Hot Cakes Cafe and Lodging in Hankinson, in the southeast near the South Dakota border.
Temperatures in the region dropped well below zero Wednesday, with wind chills plummeting to nearly 40 degrees below. The life-threatening conditions were forecast to continue into Thursday morning.
Similar conditions blanketed the region last Thursday, though that system brought winds that surpassed 70 mph in some areas and reached near-hurricane force. The weather is associated with strong Arctic cold fronts — something that is normal this time of year, said Jeff Makowski, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Grand Forks.
"We've been stuck in a similar pattern for the last few weeks, seeing these systems dive down into the Northern Plains," he said. "Each of them has a little period of snow in advance, and some very gusty winds behind it. We've had some fresh snow to blow around, and that's exacerbated the situation."
Paulson said she and her husband plan to head south for a while to seek respite from the brutal conditions.
"We're leaving for Arizona this weekend," she said. "Can't wait to get out here."
Follow Blake Nicholson on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/NicholsonBlake