Early Winter Weather Settles In Over Midwest

An arctic airmass was expected to continue chilling the central portion of the country Thursday.

The anticipated cold temperatures have prompted freeze warnings and frost advisories from eastern Colorado through western Pennsylvania. Snow was expected in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and parts of the upper Midwest.

North Dakota has its first taste of winter, with just enough snow to make roads icy. Authorities say the conditions led to crashes that killed one man and injured others.

Most of the crashes happened between 5 a.m., and 8 a.m., Wednesday, said Capt. Kevin Robson, of the Highway Patrol's Grand Forks office.

"The road was wet all through the night and then it was slick," Robson said. Conditions improved by afternoon.

An Emerado man driving a sport utility vehicle was killed when he lost control of it on U.S. 2, en route from Emerado to Grand Forks, the patrol said. The vehicle overturned and the man, whose name was not immediately released, was thrown from it and then struck by an oncoming car, the patrol said. Two others in the SUV were treated and released.

A semi driver traveling west on U.S. 2 in Grand Forks County lost control of the semi about 5 a.m., and it rolled over, the patrol said. The driver was treated and released and a passenger suffered leg injuries.

Among other mishaps: A pickup driver was injured on Interstate 29 just outside Grand Forks when the pickup began to fishtail and came to rest on a bridge guardrail, and two men were injured when they lost control of an SUV, the patrol said.

"The first couple of snow events and poor road conditions kind of catch people off guard," Robson said. "The general trend of all these conditions is that people were driving faster than they should be on an icy highway."

An automated deicing system on a Red River bridge between Fargo and Moorhead, Minn., failed Wednesday ahead of a seven-vehicle crash, authorities said. No one was seriously hurt.

Snow and ice were factors, along with speed, authorities said.

The westbound deicing system operated by Minnesota officials worked properly about 4:15 a.m., North Dakota Transportation Department spokesman Troy Gilbertson said. But the eastbound equipment, operated by North Dakota's Transportation Department, didn't.

"We did a test last night, and the pump burned out at that pumping station," Gilbertson said.

Each side has a different pumping station to spray a chemical on the bridge, Gilbertson said.

Robson said the chemical system was tested first on Interstate 29 near Buxton.

It was a year ago this month that a major storm it southwestern North Dakota, dropping up to 2 feet of snow in some areas, knocking out power to thousands of people and sending National Guard soldiers to help rescue stranded drivers.

Wednesday's snowfall amounts, with highs temperatures in the 30s, totaled less than an inch around the state. Bottineau reported the most with about half an inch, said meteorologist Rich Leblang, at the National Weather Service office in Bismarck.

"These are just scattered snow showers," Leblang said late Wednesday. "But tomorrow will be windy again and with that very cold air this time of year — I wouldn't be surprised if we could pop a few more afternoon snow showers."

Robson and Gilbertson said deicing systems are tools to help drivers, but they still must slow down.

"You have to drive the conditions," Robson said.