Highways reopen in the aftermath of Blizzard Emilia

Roads reopened Friday morning after Blizzard Emilia shut down the region Thursday. Interstate 29 closed from Grand Forks to South Dakota Thursday morning and portions of Interstate 94 shut down as whiteout conditions ensued. No-travel advisories ...
FILE PHOTO: A MNDOT snowplow clears pillow drifts from Minnesota Highway 11. (Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald)

Roads reopened Friday morning after Blizzard Emilia shut down the region Thursday.

Interstate 29 closed from Grand Forks to South Dakota Thursday morning and portions of Interstate 94 shut down as whiteout conditions ensued. No-travel advisories were issued for eastern North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota for most of Thursday, but were lifted Friday morning. All highways are open again.

Blizzard Emilia saw heavy wind gusts of over 40 mph Thursday and into the evening. Moore said the highest winds were in the Red River Valley. Fargo had 46 mph gusts and Grand Forks had 43 mph winds.

"Anything above 35 is blizzard criteria, so we definitely met that," National Weather Service meteorologist Andrew Moore said. Blizzards mix falling or ground snow with heavy winds to cause limited visibility and often dangerous driving conditions.

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.

The region saw heavy snowfall from Wednesday to Thursday. Moore said north of U.S. Highway 2 there was about 3-6 inches of accumulation, but south of Grand Forks saw the heaviest snowfall. Moore said a band of heavy snowfall settled from Valley City through Fargo and up toward Fosston, Minn. The highest measurement was a foot of snow just north of Fargo, Moore said.

Although the area seems to have a lot of snow, Moore said Grand Forks is just slightly above average for sitting snow right now, with about 14 inches on the ground. Moore said it's difficult to track how much snow is on the ground, however, because snow accumulates differently in open fields, drifts or near sheltered areas.

Although conditions have improved, Moore said the area is not in the clear yet. Freezing temperatures caused dangerous wind chills Friday morning and are expected to return at night. On Friday morning, temperatures in the negative 20s made it feel like 40-50 below and up to 60 below in northern towns. Moore said cold winds will return to make it feel like 20 or 30 below Friday night.

More snow is possible throughout eastern North Dakota and much of Minnesota next week, althgouth Moore said it's hard to determine details so far out. Snow will likely fall Tuesday and possibly Wednesday, though.