Early snowstorm rolls into eastern ND

Associated Press

GRAND FORKS, N.D. (AP) — An early fall snowstorm swept into eastern North Dakota's Red River Valley on Thursday, causing travel headaches, power outages and even worries of blizzard conditions just days after record-high temperatures.

Grand Forks residents reported near white-out conditions as about four inches piled up by late morning, WDAY-TV reported. Residents and city crews were busy cutting down and cleaning up broken tree branches by day's end.

The National Weather Service posted a winter storm warning for northeastern North Dakota with six to 12 inches of snow expected. Gusty winds whipped the snow around, causing worries of near-blizzard conditions in some areas. The state Transportation Department issued a travel alert for the region, urging motorists to slow down and use extreme caution.

Wet, heavy snow pulled down power lines and temporarily cut service. About 6,500 Xcel Energy customers in the Fargo region were without power for a couple of hours. Traffic signals also went dark at some Fargo intersections during the outage but there were no reports of serious accidents, Fargo Police Lt. Joel Vettel told The Forum newspaper.

American Crystal Sugar shut down sugar beet harvest activities from Hillsboro north Thursday morning because of the weather, the Grand Forks Herald reported.

The storm system started moving from west to east on Wednesday. Measurable snowfall is not all that uncommon in early October in North Dakota, according to the weather service.

But Thursday's storm came just three days after Grand Forks recorded a high temperature of 80 degrees. Highs statewide the rest of the workweek are forecast to be only in the 30s and 40s.

"This is the time of year when we see pretty drastic changes in temperatures," weather service meteorologist Jeff Makowski told the Herald. "But we're really going to starting cooling off now."