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Hundreds of airline passengers headed to Minneapolis stranded in Fargo by winter storm

FARGO — As many as 350 airline passengers destined for Minneapolis were diverted here to Hector International Airport Monday, Jan. 22, due to a major winter storm.

"I don't recall this many people being stranded here for quite some time," said Shawn Doberstein, executive director of the Fargo Airport Authority.

Diverted flights from Winnipeg, Los Angeles, Seattle and Denver started arriving in Fargo Monday afternoon, Doberstein said.

Minneapolis—St. Paul International Airport explained on its Twitter that heavy snowfall and winds closed all four runways. However, shortly after 7 p.m. the airport tweeted that two runways were operational.

Most passengers diverted to Fargo were flying Delta Airlines, but there was one United Airlines flight originating in Houston and destined for Minot, N.D., that was also diverted here, Doberstein said.

Stranded passengers were automatically rebooked and flights to Minneapolis are expected to start leaving at 7 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 23.

Doberstein said he contacted Charley Johnson, president of the Fargo-Moorhead Convention and Visitors Bureau, to arrange hotel rooms.

"We called around to as many hotels as we could and found rooms," Johnson said.

Doberstein said the airport issued hotel vouchers and would shuttle those wanting to stay in Fargo, though some passengers were trying to rent cars to head south Monday evening.

Doberstein said the storm will cause "mass chaos in Delta's system" until they can get passengers to where they need to be. The effects of the diverted flights means that anyone originally planning to fly out of Fargo Tuesday will be rescheduled until airlines are caught up.

"It inconveniences a lot of people," he said.

Those with scheduled flights should contact their airline to check the status of their flight.

The National Weather Service reported a widespread snowfall of 8 to 16 inches from south-central through east-central Minnesota and western Wisconsin. The Minnesota Department of Transportation advised no travel in southern Minnesota due to whiteout conditions.

Kim Hyatt

Kim Hyatt is a reporter with The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead and a 2014 graduate of the University of Minnesota Duluth. She started her newspaper career at the Owatonna People’s Press covering arts and education. In 2016, she received Minnesota Newspaper Association's Dave Pyle New Journalist Award and later that year she joined The Forum newsroom.

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