North Dakota Blizzard Nearly Drives Trucking to a Stopby Jana Ritter - Published: 1/17/2014
On Friday, North Dakota’s usual winter weather became a treacherous blizzard that made highway driving nearly impossible for motorists and even enough for some professional truck drivers to pull over. Others admit it was tough, but not enough to keep them from doing their job,
In Fargo, winds gusted up to 60 miles per hour and one truck driver described driving his big rig like driving with a giant sail. Wayne Malsam has been driving his semi for about ten years and said this is some of the worst conditions he has seen. "I would say just the no visibility, stopping is very difficult, it doesn't take much, with the wind, to start sliding and once you start you can't stop. "Just the white-out conditions that you have you don't see cars in front of you or around you, it makes it very challenging," he said.
Truck driver Wade Fischer was driving in from Iowa and once he hit the white out conditions, he said enough's enough, and pulled over. "You can't see past your hood. Right in Sioux Falls it's nothing but ice. Not very smart to be out there right now." Fischer said. Although his company will lose a little bit on money, he says they would rather him and his equipment be safe. Even more so, he is concerned about other drivers not just what happens to him and his truck. "A lot of risk. Whether it's me or somebody hitting you or you hitting somebody else it's not worth the risk to push your luck,” said Fischer.
For other truck drivers the biggest obstacle wasn't so much the wind or the snow clouding the windshield, it was actually the other drivers driving slow and without their headlights on. Driver Cory Dyck said that although time is money, he will only drive if he’s comfortable and his experience with the blizzard wasn’t bad enough to stop or even slow him down much, "Right around the North Dakota, South Dakota line it was near zero at points but I could do 50-55 miles an hour and it wasn't so bad. If the roads were icy and snowing, then forget it, it would be closed. But the roads are pretty dry for the most part and I have a decent amount of weight in the box," Dyck said.
Fortunately, the wind has died down and the visibility is getting better for drivers. The truck drivers warn that the wind is still pretty strong and the temperatures have gotten much colder. They advise everyone on the road to keep a look out for other vehicles as they're driving, and to definitely keep an eye out for the big rigs.
Truck driver Tom Lawrence adds, "Watch out for other people. Make sure you're not going to run into anybody. Drive a little slower because it takes a while to stop one of these things.”