Winter storm watch issued for Thursday morning to Friday morning
On Wednesday, the National Weather Service in Grand Forks issued a winter storm watch for portions of northeastern North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota for Thursday morning through Friday morning.
GRAND FORKS – Another round of wintry weather is on its way to northeastern North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota.
On Wednesday, April 19, the National Weather Service in Grand Forks issued a winter storm watch for portions of northeast North Dakota and northwest Minnesota north of U.S. Highway 2 for Thursday morning, April 20, through Friday morning, April 21. The storm is expected to bring rain and snow, with heavy snow possible, especially in northern Minnesota. Accumulations of six inches or more and wind gusts of 45 mph are possible in some locations.
Thursday’s system comes after a light system from Tuesday to Wednesday that brought rain, sleet and snow to much of the region. The second round of precipitation is expected to arrive Thursday morning, spreading from east to west.
Most impacts of the storm will last from Thursday morning to Friday morning, but impacts in some areas may last into early Saturday, said Austin Perroux, a NWS meteorologist.
“That is difficult to determine just because of the fact that we’re dealing with a warmer ground than we typically see with these winter events, so melting may occur as we get accumulating snow,” Perroux said. “In addition to that, we do have varied precipitation types so we don’t know how severe impacts are going to end up being or how widespread they’ll end up being.”
Potential impacts include difficult travel, and with flooded ditches, any slide-offs while driving could cause additional problems for travelers. A majority of the system’s impacts will be related to heavy snowfall, Perroux said.
Snowfall accumulations of at least 2 inches are likely north of Highway 2, but during the day on Thursday, warmer temperatures could prevent snow from accumulating initially. Snowfall amounts and the snow depth at the end of the event may not match because of warm ground temperatures and melting when snow is falling, Perroux said.
Moving into the storm, the biggest challenge for forecasters is predicting where heavy snow will fall, Perroux said. Heavy snow could occur anywhere between northeastern North Dakota and northeastern Minnesota, outside of the Grand Forks NWS forecast range.
“We just don’t know where that heavy snow is going to be,” Perroux said. “We do know it’s going to exist somewhere, but as of right now, the greatest potential is within that winter storm watch area.”
Flooding along the Red River of the North and its tributaries is underway, and while Wednesday’s flood forecasts did not include precipitation past Thursday morning, Amanda Lee, service hydrologist, said snow will impact river levels less than rain would
“At least the snow is beneficial for the flood, rather than rain,” Lee said.