There was no escape from North Dakota on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2020. January had all the exits blocked. The North Dakota Department of Transportation closed Interstate 29 from Manitoba to South Dakota and Interstate 94 from Minnesota to Montana. To make sure nobody took a run to get out, the highway patrol was stationed at the borders.

The message was clear – don’t try to escape and don’t mess with January or the highway patrol.

Living only 50 miles from the border, I had my eye on the window and I could see North Dakota snow blasting through here on that fierce northwest North Dakota wind.

I know North Dakota wind and snow. I was born in the middle of North Dakota on the coldest winter in history. The summers had record heat readings, too, for that matter. When I was a boy, I remember cuts through the snowbanks along the highways that were higher than our car. And when we got big snowbanks in town, my dad would go outside with chips of lignite coal from out coal bin and record the date in the snowbank, then take a picture for proof. He had an eye on the snow and on history.

Yes, I know what North Dakota blowing snow looks like.

WDAY logo
listen live
watch live

Lignite coal is still big business in North Dakota and they are busy now working on ways to reduce the lignite carbon footprint. They believe they have an 800 year supply of lignite in the ground, so it will be important to have a minimal impact of that rich resource on global warming.

But snow isn’t all we get from North Dakota. There’s almost always a wind blowing over there and it usually blows from west to east – to Minnesota. One of the benefits of that North Dakota wind is that it blows some of that rich North Dakota farm soil over here. Tons of it. Those paying attention to the breezes from the west appreciate the bonus.

One other dividend from North Dakota is the result of the abundance of rich talent in that state that manages to escape, or migrate, on non-blizzard days. The main reason, of course, is to escape those brutal North Dakota winters – like the one that locked the gates on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2020.

Minnesota, of course, has much milder winters. It’s amazing to me how much difference 50 miles can make. Fortunately, like the rich North Dakota soil, the talent is deep and those who escape just skim the surface. The balance of that talent remains and continues to do in North Dakota what talent does.