- Associated Press - Monday, January 27, 2014

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - Major highways closed by a weekend blizzard that tore through North Dakota reopened Monday, but many schools still delayed buses and started classes an hour or two late.

Officials about dawn reopened Interstate 29 from the Canadian border to Sioux Falls, S.D., Interstate 94 between Bismarck and Fargo, and state Highway 13 from I-29 to Wahpeton. All no-travel advisories were lifted.

Many roads remained in poor driving condition, however, especially in the northern and eastern parts of the state, which have been hit by several blizzards in recent weeks.

Scott Privratsky, superintendent of the Devils Lake School District in northeastern North Dakota, said poor weather has forced the cancellation of classes there three times this winter and the delaying of classes twice, including Monday.

“It gets to be a little bit of a headache, but everybody is dealing with it,” he said. “It’s another stormy day, but we’re getting ready for school.”

Privratsky said area superintendents typically consult by cellphone and email before deciding whether to cancel or delay classes, and many drive area roads themselves to get a firsthand look at conditions. Privratsky drove about 8 miles late Sunday afternoon.

“You had to slow way down, and it was still daylight,” he said.

Privratsky said ensuring student safety is the main concern when it comes to severe winter storms. The Devils Lake School District encompasses more than 400 square miles, and some bus drivers have to travel across the lake of the same name as the city.

“We bus about 900 students a day, and our district is rather large,” Privratsky said. “We have some fairly treacherous roads; many get drifted in, especially across the lake. When you have to travel across the lake you often get whiteout conditions.”

Whiteout conditions were widespread during Sunday’s blizzard that affected much of the state. The Highway Patrol reported an eight-vehicle crash on I-94 east of Jamestown that injured one person, and a 14-vehicle pileup on state Highway 23 east of Makoti that sent four people to a Minot hospital. That crash involved two semitrailers, an ambulance and a fire truck.

There also were several crashes on I-29 in Pembina County just south of the Canadian border. A 53-year-old man from Winnipeg, Manitoba, died when he left his vehicle and was struck by a semitrailer. He was not immediately identified.

Extreme cold followed the blizzard. The National Weather Service issued wind chill warnings and advisories statewide through Tuesday morning, with expected wind chills from 30 degrees below zero to 50 below.


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