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Blizzard socks the eastern Dakotas with heavy snow

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 11, 2013 at 5:17 pm •  Published: February 11, 2013

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — 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 over 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.

Interstates that had been shut down began reopening Monday. All of Interstate 29 that had been closed reopened by late Monday afternoon. I-94 in North Dakota reopened between Fargo and Jamestown, and I-90 in South Dakota reopened between Sioux Falls and Wall.

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 and they may not clear some until Monday night, 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.

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