Schools, public offices, medical centers and businesses throughout the eastern Dakotas opened late or not at all Monday as the region began digging out from a blizzard that broke several longstanding weather records.
The storm that brought more than foot of snow and strong winds to some areas contributed to numerous accidents at the weekend, including a seven-vehicle chain-reaction crash on I-94 in southeastern North Dakota late Friday. The Highway Patrol reported only minor injuries.
Blizzard warnings posted by the National Weather Service continued into Monday morning in central and northeastern South Dakota and southeastern North Dakota. Winter weather advisories endured for other parts of the region.
Interstate 29 remained closed between Sioux Falls, S.D. and Grand Forks, N.D. I-94 in North Dakota was shut down between Fargo and Jamestown, and I-90 in South Dakota was closed between Sioux Falls and Wall. The weather service advised against travel in other parts of the region.
Shea Denault and his sister, Jenna, crashed into a road-closure gate on I-29 in Fargo on Saturday.
"It was pretty bad, pretty white-out," Shea Denault told WDAY-TV. "All of a sudden we see this gate. We're doing about 45 (mph). She freaked out. She was driving, and she slammed on the brakes."
Troopers and snowplow drivers rescued several stranded motorists. Officials in the southeastern North Dakota town of Fairmount opened an emergency shelter to accommodate nearly three dozen stranded motorists.
Fargo Public Works Director Ben Dow told The Forum newspaper that it was the worst snowstorm since a two-day blizzard that led to a major pileup on I-94 west of West Fargo on Dec. 30, 2010. Clearing roads will be a difficult task, he said.
"Some things might take us until Monday night to get through," he said.
The University of North Dakota hockey team, returning from a weekend series in Omaha, Neb., became stranded in Sisseton, S.D., when the interstates were shut down. Coach Dave Hakstol told the Grand Forks Herald that he hoped the team could return home sometime Monday.
The storm broke several weather records in the two states, according to the National Weather Service.
In South Dakota, Aberdeen had 8.4 inches of snow Sunday, breaking the city's record for the date of 3.4 inches set 65 years ago. Huron had 9 inches, breaking that city's 54-year-old record of 4.9 inches. In North Dakota, Fargo set a record with 9.3 inches of snow Sunday, breaking the city's 60-year-old record of 3.1 inches. Grand Forks had 4.8 inches, breaking its record for the date of 3.1 inches, set 18 years ago.
Many schools canceled classes or scheduled them to begin late on Monday. Valley City State University in North Dakota and Presentation College in the South Dakota city of Aberdeen closed their campuses Monday. UND in Grand Forks canceled classes before 10 a.m. Monday.
Page 2 of 2 - The South Dakota Legislature shifted its four-day work week from Monday through Thursday to Tuesday through Friday because of the storm.
The storm did bring much-needed moisture to parts of South Dakota that have been mired in drought.
"Some of our automated equipment was getting as much as 1 inch of moisture in the snow," National Weather Service Meteorologist Jeff Chapman told The Daily Republic newspaper. "That is actually a pretty significant amount and should help the area."