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First snowstorm catches many off guard

Posted 11/03/10 (Wed)

By Tina Foreman
Farmer Staff Writer
Although fall snowstorms are typical for North Dakota, that first good storm always seems to be a tough one. And even though it was the second snow of the season, last week’s storm was no different.
“The first storm always seems to be worse,” says Slade Herfindahl, Watford City chief of police. “Like most years, when this storm hit, it seemed that everyone forgot how to drive, making things that much worse.”
The snowstorm that hit the area on Oct. 27 and 28 left behind 6.2 inches of snow, a snow total that alone would have been easily managed, that was compounded by high winds, white-out conditions and ice.
In addition to the snow, the storm brought many accidents to the area.
“That morning and the day following the snow were very busy for us,” says Ron Rankin, McKenzie County sheriff. “We had in excess of 24 vehicles in the ditch throughout the county. In addition, there were three accidents, two traffic complaints and other reports of vehicles not being able to climb hills in parts of the county. Tow trucks were used from Williston and Alexander, and one of the tow trucks was even stuck for a while. I am sure there were several other vehicles in the ditch that went unreported.”
According to Herfindahl, the storm led to one injury accident in town, and other property accidents, including one that tied up part of the truck bypass for nearly two hours.
“Wednesday wasn’t a fun day,” adds Herfindahl. “In addition to the accidents, there were several snowbound vehicles which added to the city’s snow removal work.”
According to Herfindahl, vehicle owners have 24 hours after snowfall to move their vehicles from the side of the street so that snow removal can take place.
“Any vehicle, whether it is a camper, trailer, car, etc. needs to be removed from the street so the city can move the snow,” states Herfindahl. “I know it can be difficult sometimes, but when people leave their vehicles on the street, it just compounds the problem.”
Herfindahl urges people to move their vehicles, especially if they see a red warning tag on it. Once a warning is given, unmoved vehicles will be towed.
Despite some equipment failure, Lowell Cutshaw, Watford City city engineer/administrator felt that the first snow removal of the year went well.
“All in all, I think things went pretty well given the circumstances,” says Cutshaw. “We had a hydraulic hose blow out on our motor grader, so that piece of equipment was out of service for a while. But because we had all of the equipment and material ready before the snow, we were prepared.”
Now that the first snowstorm of the year is out of the way, the city and its residents can be hopeful that the rest of the winter snow will be easy to deal with.