Blowing snow keeps street crews busy

A group of men, including a Dickinson Fire Department employee, helps push a stuck car that skidded into a drift on the northbound side of Highway 22 on Thursday afternoon.

Snow. Blow. Scrape. Repeat.

The snow removal business in Dickinson has been busy this week, Dickinson’s street maintenance manager Brent Coulter said — and crews didn’t get any relief Thursday as high winds sent snow drifting across city streets throughout the day.

“We’ve had every piece of equipment and every operator available moving snow,” Coulter said Thursday afternoon, adding the city has two contractors assisting in the cleaning efforts.

Often, he said, crews would clean a street and head to the next sketchy spot, only to get calls saying the area they had just cleared was blowing shut again.

“The wind is killing us right now,” Coulter said.

While blizzard conditions gripped northeastern North Dakota, the southwest saw an onslaught of travel alerts and a winter weather advisory issued by the National Weather Service. That turned into a wind chill advisory in the evening hours.

Though real temperatures lingered around 10 degrees Thursday, the wind chill at the Dickinson Theodore Roosevelt Regional Airport never rose above 10 below zero after 8 a.m. It actually dropped throughout the day.

The highest recorded wind gust was 51 mph shortly before 8 a.m. The stiff northwest wind blew between 30 and 40 mph throughout the day.

Though late afternoon highs were expected to settle in the upper teens, wind chills could drop as low as 25 degrees below zero, the National Weather Service said.

Regardless, it was a great improvement over Thursday morning’s conditions.

Officials from Stark, Dunn, Billings, Golden Valley and Oliver counties issued no-travel advisories in the morning, though the North Dakota Department of Transportation did not close any roads.

Billings County Sheriff’s Deputy Jason Kastrow said the advisories help keep drivers aware, but don’t necessarily keep them off the road.

“It did seem like there was less (traffic), but there were still people out,” he said.

Kastrow and Dunn County Emergency Manager Denise Brew said their counties had few issues and accidents, though poor visibility that was worse in the morning hours lingered into the late afternoon.

“It goes in spurts,” Brew said, adding the dangerous wind chills concerned her going into the evening and overnight hours.

No matter how low the wind chill gets, Coulter said his crews will continue to work.

About two-thirds of Dickinson’s street maintenance crew is new, he said. But, Coulter said they’re doing “exceptionally well” with the extra work being thrown at them by Mother Nature. “I’m pretty proud of my guys,” he said.

Author: Dustin Monke

Former newspaper editor. Now I market the best baked goods and donuts in America. But every once in a while, I write a cool story too.

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