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Stormy weather, frigid conditions return to North Dakota; deep freeze will settle in rest of workweek

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Joseph Schirado, left, walks with son Zachary Schirado, 7, in the blowing snow on Tuesday afternoon in north Bismarck. "We have walked home through worse, but you have to bundle up and dress in layers," Joseph Schirado said of their after-school walk home.

An Alberta clipper weather system that moved out of the Northern Rockies and into North Dakota on Tuesday ended a short reprieve from the frigid, snowy conditions of the previous week.

Bismarck saw high temperatures of 23 on Sunday and 20 on Monday -- relatively balmy conditions compared to the subzero highs and life-threatening wind chills that blanketed the state last week. But Tuesday saw temperatures fall into the single digits during the day, along with snow and strong winds that caused disruptions across the state.

"A quick-hitting storm will march from the Northern Plains into the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes through Wednesday evening, bringing along a swath of powdery snow and blustery conditions," AccuWeather Meteorologist Brandon Buckingham wrote.

The North Dakota Highway Patrol restricted travel for oversize vehicles in the southwestern counties of Bowman and Slope on Tuesday due to poor weather and road conditions. The state Department of Transportation closed its Motor Vehicle office in the town of Bowman at midday.

Travel alerts were in place for most counties, including Burleigh and Morton. Areas of blowing and drifting snow were reported across the state. A semitrailer went out of control on an icy Interstate 94 between Casselton and West Fargo in Cass County, crossed the median and rolled across the westbound lanes about 2 miles west of Mapleton, blocking the roadway, the patrol reported. Traffic was detoured for more than an hour at midday. No one was hurt.

The University of North Dakota in Grand Forks announced it was closing its campus at 7 p.m. Tuesday, with plans to reopen at 10 a.m. Wednesday.

Bismarck-Mandan was expected to get only an inch or two of snow from the system. Totals up to 5 inches were forecast in northeastern North Dakota. The National Weather Service posted a blizzard warning for the east and for the James River Valley in the southeast; a winter weather advisory for the central part of the state, including Bismarck-Mandan; and a wind chill advisory for the west.

"In the wake of the snowfall, cold and blustery conditions are in store behind this storm, so residents and travelers to the area will need to be properly bundled up," Buckingham said.

The frigid arctic air that will surge into the Northern Plains is expected to last through the rest of the workweek, with subzero highs and lows through Friday morning, according to the weather service. The high temp in Bismarck-Mandan on Thursday is forecast to reach only minus 10 degrees.

Wind chills as cold as minus 50 will blanket the state. Wind chills in the Bismarck-Mandan area are forecast around minus 40.

The weekend should be nicer, with highs in Bismarck-Mandan reaching around 20 degrees on Saturday, slipping to the single digits on Sunday, and rebounding to around 20 for the start of the next workweek.

Reach Blake Nicholson at 701-250-8266 or blake.nicholson@bismarcktribune.com.

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