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Blizzard Geraldine moves into Grand Forks region

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Blizzard Geraldine was predicted to hit the region with force Wednesday night, and meteorologists say it could lead to downed power lines, road closures and power outages.

National Weather Service Meteorologist Carl Jones said the storm is potentially historic and will “bring impacts that we haven’t seen here in several years.” The system is predicted to drop 8-12 inches of snow throughout the Grand Forks area paired with winds around 60 mph.

The Herald named the blizzard Geraldine after Geraldine Pearson, who has been a Herald carrier since 1981, and in honor of all Herald carriers braving this ugly winter every day.

The Herald has been naming blizzards for nearly three decades. The paper traditionally names storms after people who are in the news or prominent in the community.

Jones said Wednesday afternoon that light rain was possible around 6 p.m., although it was uncertain if the area would see rain. Grand Forks was expected to be impacted mostly by heavy snowfall, while west central Minnesota and areas south of Fosston, Minn., could see large amounts of rain.

Jones said snowfall was predicted to begin Wednesday around 6 p.m. and continue overnight until Thursday evening.

Jones said there is potential for higher amounts of snow in the area depending upon where the heavy snow band settles. He said the snow was expected to start in south central North Dakota, go into Barnes County, Grand Forks County and end near Roseau County in Minnesota. Areas in the band could see between 12 and 18 inches of snow, Jones said, and there was potential it could shift west or east slightly.

Winds were expected to start around 5 p.m. Wednesday and hit all throughout North Dakota around midnight with wind speeds reaching around 50-60 mph. Jones said gusts are expected to be most intense Thursday morning. Heavy winds at the same time as the snowfall will cause significant blizzard conditions, he said. Heavy wind will likely continue into Thursday night and die down Friday morning, Jones said.

Temperatures Wednesday were near freezing for most of the day, although it was expected to cool overnight. Jones said there could be above-freezing temperatures Thursday morning, but the region is expected to gradually cool afterward.

Travel will be significantly affected during the storm by blowing and drifting snow causing near-zero visibility and by potentially icy roads, Jones said. Travel is predicted to be dangerous or near impossible and road closures are likely.

There is also a risk for power outages and downed lines Wednesday night and Thursday, Jones said.

The blizzard has the potential to be historic, although Jones said it’s hard to draw comparisons to the deadly 1966 blizzard or the 1997 blizzard Hannah that occured in April right before the flood. Jones said this storm system will bring significant impacts, however, and will be bigger and more intense than storms in more recent years.

“It’s a bit of a different beast,” Jones said.

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