Emilia shuts down travel, activity in the Grand Forks region

Blizzard Emilia hit the Red River Valley Thursday as continued falling snow mixed with high winds. Grand Forks had an additional 5 inches of snow by noon Thursday. National Weather Service meteorologist Brad Hopkins said Ada, Minn., was the harde...
Eric Hylden / Forum News Service Duane Wages, a truck driver for Britton Transport in Grand Forks, faces a stiff north wind Thursday as he walks from his parked truck to the store at the Flying J Travel Plaza along Interstate 29 on the west side of Grand Forks.

Blizzard Emilia hit the Red River Valley Thursday as continued falling snow mixed with high winds.

Grand Forks had an additional 5 inches of snow by noon Thursday. National Weather Service meteorologist Brad Hopkins said Ada, Minn., was the hardest hit, with 11 inches of snow. Most areas in the Red River Valley were expected to receive 4-8 inches of snow from Wednesday afternoon into Thursday night. Hopkins said a band of heavy snowfall stretched from near Enderlin, N.D., to Fosston, Minn.

Hopkins said wind gusts of up to 40 mph were expected to continue through Thursday night. Visibility was reduced to a quarter-mile or less, especially in open country. Blizzards occur when falling snow mixes with sustained winds of over 35 mph.

The Herald named the blizzard after Emilia Hodgson, a Giving Hearts Day collaboration member. Giving Hearts Day is an annual event of matched fundraising set for Feb. 14.

The Herald has been naming blizzards for nearly three decades. The paper traditionally names storms after people in the news or who are prominent in the community.

Hopkins said blizzard-like conditions were expected to continue until 9 p.m. and snowfall was expected to taper off from west to east throughout Thursday evening.

UND, Grand Forks Public Schools and other nearby districts canceled classes Thursday. Grand Forks city and county offices and East Grand Forks City Hall also closed Thursday.

The weather service said wind chills will fall to 40-50 below Thursday night.

Interstate 29 closed between Grand Forks and Fargo around 10 a.m. because of hazardous conditions caused by blowing snow and near-zero visibility.

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office issued a no-travel advisory throughout the county and the Minnesota Department of Transportation advised no travel on any northwestern minnesota highways west of U.S. Highway 59. The department warned that blowing snow was creating hazardous driving conditions on U.S. Highway 2, U.S. Highway 75 and surrounding roadways.

The eastbound lanes of Interstate 94 from Jamestown to Fargo and westbound lanes from Fargo to Valley City closed Thursday morning due to heavy and blowing snow.

Hopkins said heavy winds would continue into Friday morning but “more tranquil” weather will prevail into the weekend. Temperatures are expected to warm into the single digits Saturday and the teens next week.