FARGO — Two waves of snow packed into a potential punch of a snowstorm is causing a lot of uncertainty as to where and when they will hit later this week in the Red River Valley, meteorologists said.
But forecasters are almost certain the system will bring in colder weather.
Talk of “significant winter impacts” in North Dakota began Sunday afternoon, Oct. 6, but meteorologists still were working Monday, Oct. 7, to determine when snow could hit the Red River Valley, and which areas could see what amounts.
“It’s only Monday,” WDAY meteorologist Jared Piepenburg said, adding a lot could change by the time the system potentially hits the region. “One thing we can guarantee is, it is going to get much colder.”
The system is slated to move from the Pacific Northwest through Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska and South Dakota before moving into western North Dakota Wednesday night into Thursday, said Ken Simosko, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Bismarck.
Southwest and south-central North Dakota have the “greatest potential” of recording 4 inches or more, the weather service said.
The storm likely will start as showers Wednesday in the Red River Valley, which could turn into snow Thursday into Friday, Piepenburg said.
Models conflicted on whether the storm will move east into the Great Lakes area or continue north into Canada, Simosko said.
Regardless, cold air will be pulled from Canada, resulting in a dramatic drop in temperatures, Simosko said. The southeast should stay in the mid- to upper 60s Tuesday, Oct. 8, though southwest and central North Dakota could climb into the low 70s.
Temperatures likely will drop to near or below freezing in the North Dakota cities of Grand Forks, Bismarck, Dickinson, Minot, Devils Lake, Jamestown and Williston Wednesday night into early Thursday morning, the National Weather Service said.
Fargo and Detroit Lakes, Minn., likely won’t see below freezing lows until Thursday night into Friday morning. Residents should expect highs to top out in the high 20s and mid-30s for the last half of the week, meteorologists said.
A second wave of snow could hit western North Dakota Friday into Saturday, the weather service said. That’s what is causing a lot of uncertainty, WDAY chief meteorologist John Wheeler said.
"It isn't unusual to have such a big swing, but it is still a big swing," Piepenburg said. "Average high temperatures in early October are in the lower 60s to upper 50s."