December 19, 2008

Northwestern North Dakota lives


Northwestern North Dakota lives

and breathes at 30 below zero


It’s been a few years since North Dakota has been hit with heavy snow and bitter cold at the same time, but Mother Nature hammered the northwest hard over the weekend and into Monday.

Temperatures plummeted to near record lows for mid December as an intense weather system moved across the state beginning Saturday, which followed a mild day Friday. The unseasonable cold became more of a newsmaker than did the snowfall.

The coldest temperatures in the northwest were recorded about sunrise Monday morning. Parshall briefly dipped to 32 below zero, Makoti held steady at 29 below zero and New Town remained at 23 below zero for about two hours after sunrise, later producing a daytime high of 17 below zero.

The coldest official air temperature recorded in North Dakota Sunday night into Monday morning, was 30 below zero in Williston and Halliday. Some points in Montana were colder, but most reporting stations in western North Dakota were somewhere in the 20 below range.

Although the National Weather Service was forecasting even colder overnight lows for Tuesday morning, the temperatures never got as cold as the 30 below plus predicted. Van Hook was 28 below zero at 8:30 Tuesday morning, while New Town, for the second straight morning, bottomed out at 23 below and Parshall’s sunrise temperature was 23 below, but quickly rose to 16 below.

Fortunately, a strong wind accompanied with the heavy snow over the weekend, dropped off to just a slight breeze on Monday night and fell calm on Tuesday morning across Mountrail County.

Snow totals varied widely across the northwest. New Town recorded 7 inches, Watford City, 9 inches, Makoti, 5 inches and Parshall, 8 inches.

Just as in the temperatures, Williston again hit the jackpot with the most snowfall over the weekend with 13 inches of snow.

Residents of the northwest began digging out Sunday even though the wind was still howling and blowing and drifting was going on. Visibility had improved greatly by noon on Sunday in the northwest allowing for some work to be done while Interstate 94 remained closed from Jamestown to Fergus Falls, Minn., because of extreme conditions.

Al Christianson was filling No. 1 diesel in his payloader Tuesday morning at the Cenex station in Parshall. Christianson, who works for the city of Parshall, said it was too cold for No. 2 diesel to be effective in cleaning the streets.

Christianson said the heater in the cab was good enough to keep him warm while pushing snow off the city streets.

"But, man is it cold," he said. "When I come outside, I get cold, even though I’m dressed for it."

Interestingly, there were no reports of people stranded, probably because the impending blizzard was widely publicized and most people took the appropriate precautions, according to the Mountrail County Sheriff’s Department.

The Weather Network