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Winter storm wreaks havoc
March 10, 2017

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Winter weather conditions weren't done with the Pierce County area earlier this week.

On Monday, fog gave way to mid-morning and afternoon thunderstorms with freezing rain. The rain then transitioned into blizzard conditions.

The storm dropped an estimated one inch of rain and seven inches of snow Monday and two inches of snow Tuesday.

According to meteorologist April Cooper with the National Weather Service office in Bismarck, the storm that hit the area Monday was part of a low pressure system that was originally "spinning" off the northern Pacific. With the system came mid-level instability that caused thunderstorms.

High winds caused blowing snow and low visibility. Wind gusts over 70 mph occurred in the morning and early afternoon Tuesday.

U.S. Highway 2 eastbound from Minot to Devils Lake and westbound from Devils Lake to Rugby was closed until Wednesday morning. N.D. Highway 3 was blocked in multiple locations from the junction of Highway 19 near Esmond to the Canadian border, as well as five miles south of the junction according to a N.D. Department of Transportation press release.

First Lutheran Church and the Rugby Armory, as well as homes of some area residents became temporary places to stay for displaced motorists. Rev. Mike Pretzer of the Rugby-Leeds Lutheran United parish said four people two adults and two children stayed at the church. Pierce County Emergency Manager Kelsey Siegler said 73 people and seven dogs were at the Armory, but it was unknown Wednesday morning how many were housed with area residents.

Several area events were canceled or postponed due to weather conditions.

In Rugby, the City Council meeting which is usually held the first Monday of each month at 7:30 p.m. was postponed until Monday, March 13. Schools were canceled on Tuesday morning and set to start at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday with no buses running.

The N.D. High School Activities Association twice postponed regional basketball tournaments in the area, particularly the Region 4 tournament in Devils Lake and the Region 6 tournament in Minot. Both tournaments were originally slated to begin Monday, but were rescheduled for Thursday, Friday and tonight.

The low pressure system triggered severe weather in other parts of the U.S., including tornado watches in counties in central Minnesota.

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