NBC News
State Patrol officers in Fargo, N.D., saw their share of accidents Wednesday as blizzard-like conditions hit the area.
updated 2/12/2004 12:20:57 PM ET 2004-02-12T17:20:57

Amtrak trains began crossing the far Northern Plains again Thursday, a day after winds gusted to over 70 mph and snow drifted up to 20 feet deep.

The cold lingered, however. The weather service warned residents of eastern North Dakota and western Minnesota that winds could combine with subzero temperatures to make the outdoors feel as low as 40 degrees below zero before conditions improved by midday.

Separate storms in New Mexico and North Carolina, meanwhile, closed schools and Los Alamos National Laboratory on Thursday.

The Plains weather fit perfectly with a fund-raiser at North Dakota State University, as a handful of students took turns sitting outside on snow-heaped couches for what they called a Freeze-a-thon to benefit a child care center.

“People stop to say hi,” said freshman Michael Rybak, who wore five pairs of socks, four pairs of pants, a jacket, two sweat shirts, a turtleneck and a hat.

The storm blowing out of Canada did not bring heavy snow, but the wind picked up the few inches that fell and the snow already on the ground, causing drifting and whiteout conditions.

The blizzard conditions had stopped Amtrak’s eastbound Empire Builder passenger train in Minot, N.D., while the westbound train got no farther than Minneapolis.

North Dakota Gov. John Hoeven declared a snow emergency, citing drifts of up to 20 feet in the northwestern part of the state.

At least one death was blamed on the storm. A 4-year-old girl died when the car driven by her mother skidded into another car on an icy highway in Minnesota.

Some highways in western South Dakota had drifts 3 feet high, and in eastern Montana, wind gusted to 77 mph at Glendive and about 100 miles of Interstate 94 was closed for hours from Miles City to the North Dakota state line.

Elsewhere, up to a foot of snow fell in northeastern New Mexico, closing the birthplace of the atomic bomb, but lab spokesman Kevin Roark saw some upside: “It’s really good news for the fire season and obviously really good news for Pajarito Mountain — the skiers are going to be loving it,” he said.

Four to 7 inches of snow had fallen by morning in western North Carolina, making roads “very treacherous for two-wheel drive,” said Patty McMeans, an Ashe County dispatcher coordinator.

© 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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