Blizzard forces closure of I-29, I-94 in most of eastern ND; several accidents, some power outages also reported
FARGO - North Dakota's interstates are shutting down in the eastern part of the state because of the blizzard-like conditions following several major accidents this afternoon.
Eastbound and westbound lanes of Interstate 94 between Fargo and Jamestown closed before 2 p.m.
Northbound and southbound lanes of Interstate 29 between Grand Forks and the South Dakota border will close at 4 p.m., according to the North Dakota Department of Transportation office in Fargo.
Accidents were plaguing drivers traveling on both interstates this afternoon as the storm moved in - bringing wind, snow and reduced visibility.
An accident this afternoon off I-29 at mile marker 114 near Buxton, N.D., blocked the southbound lanes causing traffic to back up. Cars were being turned around at the Buxton exit, according to NDDOT.
Buxton is 56 miles north of Fargo.
Also, a multi-vehicle accident on I-94 brought traffic to a standstill between Mapleton and Raymond, about 10 miles west of Fargo.
NDDOT maintenance supervisor Bruce Nord said the crash involved "maybe 100" vehicles.
North Dakota Highway Patrol Sgt. Dave Wolf said the accident scene was about a quarter-mile long, and he estimated a dozen or so vehicles were involved, but he noted he couldn't see the entire scene.
"We're blocked. We can't get through because of a semi that's blocking the entire road. Until we can get him moved out of the way, we don't even know what's beyond that," he said.
At least two people were transported by ambulance, but the extent of their injuries wasn't known, Wolf said.
The Highway Patrol is advising no travel, he said.
"Visibility is zero. Roads are glare ice. It's 10, maybe 15 mph. If you have to stop quick, you're sliding at that speed," he said.
Clay County Sheriff Bill Bergquist also had issued a no-travel advisory in the rural areas of the county.
"We are experiencing zero visibility on all roads and highways when you are outside the city limits," Bergquist said.
Meanwhile, some rural towns were experiencing power outages today.
Amenia, N.D., is without power, and crews are working to fix it but are being delayed by the severe weather, said Otter Tail Power Co. spokeswoman Cris Kling.
Mapleton and rural Casselton were without power for nearly 3 hours this afternoon while transmission lines were repaired, but power has been restored, Kling said.