BEMIDJI – Snow blanketed the area Monday morning and throughout the day, delaying events and closing roads.
Area residents were welcomed with fresh snowfall Monday morning, and schools had a late start after the National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning for the region Sunday.
About seven to eight inches of snow fell on the area by late Monday afternoon.
Meanwhile, a storm including high wind gusts and whiteout conditions west of Bemidji was enough for the Minnesota Department of Transportation and the State Patrol to close Highway 2 between East Grand Forks and Crookston Monday afternoon.
The eastern part of North Dakota and some parts of northwest Minnesota were in a blizzard warning Monday.
But Jennifer Ritterling, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Grand Forks, N.D. said Bemidji wouldn’t likely see those same conditions.
“You’ll see some winds picking up a little bit, but you probably won’t see the widespread blowing snow and low visibilities just because you guys have those trees to help out,” she said. “In open areas it’s a lot worse.”
However, MnDOT urged drivers to stay alert, slow down and give snowplows plenty of room.
The weather service was forecasting that the heaviest snowfall in Bemidji would stop before 7 p.m. Monday, with wind gusts as high as 34 mph overnight.
“Our advice is that activities for tonight in Beltrami County should be cancelled or postponed,” Beryl Wernberg, the Beltrami County Emergency Director, wrote in an email when Highway 2 was closed.
Some took that advice.
Bemidji State University and Northwest Technical College canceled classes that began after 4 p.m. Monday. Some Bemidji businesses also closed early. The Bemidji City Council postponed its evening meeting until March 25, when it will be preceded by an already scheduled work session.
City snowplows hit the streets at 6 a.m. Monday, finishing up for the day at 3 p.m.
“We hit everything,” city engineer Craig Gray said.
But they’ll have to hit everything again.
Because the snow continued to fall throughout the day, Gray said they planned on sending the plows out again early Tuesday morning and again Wednesday.
Plows in the northern Red River Valley had to be pulled off the road until conditions improved Monday. But plows stayed on the streets in Bemidji.
“It was slow going and visibilities were tough at times,” Gray said.