Burgum declares winter storm disaster for January fog and ice event that led to power outages

Drooping power lines on Hwy 50, west of Coulee, ND due to freezing fog on January 24
Drooping power lines on Hwy 50, west of Coulee, ND due to freezing fog on January 24(Dead Tree Productions / SkySpyPhotos.com)
Published: Mar. 21, 2023 at 7:42 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Gov. Doug Burgum issued an executive order Tuesday declaring a statewide winter storm disaster for seven North Dakota counties related to severe fog and ice buildup on power lines in January that knocked down electrical infrastructure and caused thousands of power outages.

The declaration comes for Burke, Divide, McLean, Nelson, Renville, Sheridan and Walsh counties for the January 16–20, 2023 event. The counties of Grand Forks, McHenry, Mountrail and Ward were also heavily impacted by downed power lines but did not have enough damages to exceed their per-capita impact thresholds.

“This series of freezing fog caused widespread impacts across the state, coating the landscape with a thick layer of ice,” Burgum stated in the letter. “The northern regions of the state experienced the greatest impacts with the northwest region experiencing the longest duration of power outages. Electrical cooperatives worked tirelessly to get power restored to all citizens in a timely and cost-effective manner with life safety at the forefront.”

January 2023 was a remarkably foggy month, with the state experiencing a stretch of 15 days of dense fog, whereas North Dakota generally experiences one day of dense fog in the month of January. The fog caused significant ice and frost buildup and subsequent winds caused the powerlines to gallop, snapping power poles and leading to widespread outages. Preliminary assessments indicate damages are expected to exceed $1.45 million.

Gov. Burgum declares disaster
Gov. Burgum declares disaster(KFYR)