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Predicted snow will freeze hopes of warm fall

(Jesse Trelstad/ Grand Forks Herald)

Hopes for a gentle autumn transition into winter are being dashed by a forecast of up to 4 inches of wet snow across eastern North Dakota and northwest Minnesota Thursday night.

The amount of snowfall predicted to start Thursday evening will vary through the region, ranging from up to 4 inches near Devils Lake to nothing—just cold, wetness within Grand Forks, National Weather Service meteorologist Jim Kaiser said. For the most part, the precipitation will be more of a rain-snow mix that Kaiser said won't last long.

Thursday's sunshine will be overcome by clouds during the afternoon and the rain-snow mix will begin and continue through the night. Kaiser said it may continue to come down in the western portion of the region throughout Friday, but in the east the flurries could stop by morning.

Kaiser said temperatures will be in the low 30s and will determine where snow accumulates. Areas with lower temperatures will look more white, while warmer areas could just be wet. Kaiser said pavement holds heat longer and Grand Forks will likely be on the higher end of temperatures, so roads could be wet. He warned drivers to be prepared and take their time because it can be difficult to tell if roads are wet or icy.

Kaiser said snow or rain is possible earlier on next week because the area is in an active cool pattern.

The snow "is early but it's not unheard of," Kaiser said. Recent years have seen snowfall several times during October, he said.

"Even though it's early in the season, it's not the snow that's going to stick around—it'll melt," Kaiser said. "It's not the beginning of our winter, it's just an early fall system where temperatures are cool and we've been kind of stuck in that cool pattern, so this isn't all that much of a surprise, but it is unusual."