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Second time this season -- I-94 and I-29 close for winter storm

For the second time in this winter season, Interstate highways had to be closed because of snow and blowing snow.

The first time was during the October snowstorm.

Mike Kisse is the program manager for the maintenance division of the North Dakota Department of Transportation. He said the decision to close the Interstates is a joint decision between DOT and the Highway Patrol.

"The criteria that is used is if the roadway is impassable, or if there is a life threatening situation for the motoring public," Kisse said.

Kisse said for this storm, both criteria came into play, with impassable roads and poor visibilities.

Kisse said the decision to reopen the Interstates is based on the clean-up effort, and the safety of drivers. And he said clearing the roadway is a challenge.

"We have a lot of sheltered areas that tend to drift in very heavily," Kisse said. "Sometimes, we can get 6 to 8 foot snowdrifts out there that need to be cleared. And those can't be cleared with standard snowplow trucks."

Kisse said blowers and deep plows have to be brought in to do those jobs.

"We have those assets, but not as many as our plow trucks," Kisse said.

Kisse said the ramps and otehr access points have to be dealt with. And he said it includes getting stranded vehicles off the roadway as well.

In the winter of 2018-2019, there were six Interstate closures.