The National Weather Service will provide more detailed severe weather warnings beginning Monday in 14 states, including Minnesota and North Dakota.
Forecasters say the more descriptive information is aimed at getting people to safety sooner when severe weather approaches. The expanded warnings have been tested in Kansas and Missouri and will be expanded to a dozen other states.
Tornado warnings will be issued based on three tiers of information. A published report says when a tornado is possible based on radar data, the warning will clearly communicate hazards and possible impact.
When there's substantial evidence of a large and dangerous tornado, the warning will include the potential for considerable damage and direct listeners to take shelter immediately. When a tornado carries the potential for devastating damage, the warning will include the word "catastrophic."
An audit report says taxpayer-funded health care for low-income Minnesotans exceeded state targets by nearly $207 million between 2002 and 2011.
The extra revenue for health care providers contracting with the state for MinnesotaCare and Medical Assistance allowed them to post a 2.4 percent profit, which is twice the amount set by the state.
The Minnesota Department of Human Services ordered the audit, done by the Segal Group, after concerns were raised about the rate-setting process between the state and the nonprofit health plans.
A published report says the health plans had an operating profit of $430.5 million on revenue of $18 billion for those years. The profit total was $206.9 million more than expected.
The Grafton School Board has selected an architectural firm to help
conduct a needs study. The board Thursday morning selected ICON from
Grand Forks. ICON will work under the direction of Johnson Controls.
Superintendent Jack Maus tells KXPO ICON and Johnson Controls
will start the needs assessment immediately.
Maus says the purpose of the needs assessment is to collect
information to help the Grafton School Board decide whether it's best to
upgrade Central Middle School or to build a new building on-site with
Grafton High School and Century Elementary School.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture says all wheat stored in North Dakota
on March first totalled 144-million-bushels. That's up 38-percent from the same
date one year ago. On-farm stocks totaled 87-million-bushels, up 55-percent from
2012 and off-farm stocks total nearly 57-milion-bushels, up 17-percent from one
Durum totals 22-million-bushels. That's up 12-percent from March first,
2012. Barley stored totals 32-point-seven-million-bushels, up 71-percent from one
year ago. Corn totals 156-million-bushels, up 50-percent from a year earlier.
Soybeans total 27-point-six-million-bushels. That's a decrease of 27-percent
from March first, 2012. Oats total four-million-bushels, up ten-percent from
last year, and all sunflowers stored total 686-million-pounds. That's up 42-percent
North Dakota's Senate shot down a measure Thursday that would allow someone with a concealed weapon permit to carry a gun inside a school.
But the Republican-led chamber did endorse a bill that would permit firearms in places of worship if church officials allow it and notify law enforcement.
The Senate also rejected a measure that would have allowed a concealed carry permit holder to have a gun at public gatherings.
Supporters of the gun-rights measures have said the aim was to create an efficient and cost-effective way to protect people at school, church and at public gatherings.
North Dakota's House endorsed the package of pro-gun measures earlier.
North Dakota spring wheat producers intend to plant 6.2 million acres, which is up 8 percent from last year.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture released its prospective planting guidelines Thursday.
Durum wheat producers are expected to plant a total of 1.1 million acres, down 18 percent from last year. Winter wheat acres seeded last fall totaled 350,000 acres. That's down 53 percent from a year earlier.
Corn growers in North Dakota intend to plant 4.1 million acres, while soybean growers plan to plant 4.9 million acres. Those are 14 and 3 percent increases, respectively, over the previous year. If growers are successful, the amounts grown will be record highs.
An Argusville resident has claimed a $240,000 Wild Card 2 jackpot in North Dakota.
State lottery officials say the jackpot was won in Saturday's drawing. The winning ticket was sold at a travel plaza in Mapleton.
The winner chose to remain anonymous.
This is the 16th Wild Card 2 jackpot won in North Dakota. Wild Card 2 is played in North Dakota, South Dakota, Idaho and Montana. The jackpot for the next Wild Card 2 drawing on Saturday is $215,000.
The USDA reports that farmers intend to plant 97.3 million acres of corn this year, the most since 1936.
The spring planting survey released Thursday says the 2013 corn planting forecast is up slightly from last year's 97.2 million acres.
Corn remains profitable, as prices are strong after last year's drought left the grain in short supply.
Record corn acreage is expected in Arizona, Idaho, Minnesota, Nevada, North Dakota, and Oregon.
But some Corn Belt states will continue to be affected by the worst drought since the 1950s, with slightly less planted acreage expected.
The report says farmers plan to plant 77.1 million acres in soybeans, down slightly from 2012's 77.2 million acres but still the fourth-highest soybean planting on record.
The number of flu-related deaths continues to rise in Minnesota.
The state Department of Health says four additional flu deaths were confirmed last week, bringing the number of people who have died after contracting the flu to 184.
Health officials say 18 people were hospitalized with the flu from March 17 to 23.
No nursing homes or schools reported confirmed outbreaks of the flu in the last week. Since the start of the season, 149 outbreaks of influenza in long-term care facilities have been reported and 483 outbreaks in schools.
Grafton Parks and Rec is getting a jump on any potential flooding.
Parks Director Bill Dahl briefed the Park Board Thursday morning.
Dahl says his crews are removing snow from some areas where there
will be sandbagging or clay dumped to create a dike. That's mostly on the
northwest side of Lestikow Park. They're also removing snow from roads
leading to the campground and swimming pool in order to get in and remove
equipment when flooding starts. They're planning on shutting sewerlines
and removing electrical pedestals and performing other tasks.
Dahl says they're planning to protect the park and campground as
much as possible from the effects of the Park River reaching 13-point-five
Dahl also says they still plan on having the campground open by