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Freak Blizzard Hits North Dakota

Associated Press

A freakish early blizzard piled snow in drifts up to 2 feet high in North Dakota on Wednesday, closing schools and stranding hundreds of drivers several weeks before people expected to break out the shovels and snowmobiles.

The storm dumped a record 11 inches of snow on Grand Forks, where the previous record for any day in October was 8.2 inches in 1926. Devils Lake and Cavalier reported 10 inches each, the National Weather Service said.

The blizzard also left nearly a foot of snow in some parts of Minnesota.

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Authorities said 400 vehicles were stuck on Interstate 29 north of Fargo, and at least two snowplows were hit by trucks. A driver was killed in a minivan rollover on I-29.

“The plows have been out, but I tell you what, it’s blowing so much out here that the roads--it’s just like driving down a prairie trail. It’s just very rough; it’s rutted,” said Highway Patrol Capt. Mark Nelson. “It’s near whiteout conditions at times.”

In Grand Forks, city and county offices and the University of North Dakota closed. Winds gusted near 40 mph and the wind chill factor was 7 below zero at midmorning.

Snowdrifts were reported up to 2 feet high in some areas.

Mike Connor said his commute to his job in Devils Lake took twice as long as the normal 25 minutes.

“Some of the east-west curves had drifts from 18 inches to more than 2 feet deep,” Connor said. “I didn’t expect this much. I was looking for an inch or two.”

More than 6 inches fell in Thief River Falls, Minn., where State Patrol dispatcher Cletus Brown said there hadn’t been many accidents.

A line of powerful thunderstorms at the eastern edge of the storm system swept through Indiana, killing one person and injuring 14, officials said.

The fatality occurred in Wills Township, west of South Bend. Police said several homes were destroyed.


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