NORTH DAKOTA — Rain is expected to hit the state in the early afternoon on Wednesday, Oct. 9, meteorologists say. But it doesn’t plan on going away — instead the raindrops will turn to snowflakes overnight and throughout Thursday morning. Early predictions call for more than 10 inches of snowfall in Grand Forks with the possibility for over 2 feet near Devils Lake and Langdon by the end of the storm on Saturday, Oct. 12. WDAY Stormtrackers expect the Fargo-Moorhead area to receive about 1 to 3 inches from the storm.
National Weather Service meteorologist John Hoppes said it will likely start to rain between noon and 3 p.m. in Grand Forks, with the showers coming from the west. The area will likely see about a quarter-to-half inch of rain, Hoppes said.
WDAY Stormtracker Andrew Whittmeyer says rain showers will begin in the F-M area on Wednesday night and continue all through Thursday before turning into snow that night and turn back into rain on Saturday.
Northeastern North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota will enter into winter storm watches Thursday in layers, starting midnight near Devils Lake and Langdon, and hitting Thief River Falls and Roseau closer to 7 p.m., according to the National Weather Service. Hoppes said the rain will likely become snowfall as the region transitions into the winter storm watches.
Predictions for the first wave of snow stack 4 to 8 inches of snow in Grand Forks, but the National Weather Service estimates Devils Lake and Langdon could see a foot to a foot-and-a-half of snow.
Details are foggier about the second round of snow, but the weather service said an additional 6 or more inches of snow could blanket the Red River Valley and there’s potential for more than 12 more inches of snow west of Grand Forks.
Hoppes pointed to a heavy, narrow band of snowfall in the Red River Valley during the second half of the storm, though it is still unclear exactly where the band will set up.
The weather service expects the storm to be similar to an Oct. 10 snow storm last year. Grand Forks saw 5.2 inches of snow, while the Air Force base had 19.2 inches. This year’s first snowstorm, however, is expected to hit a larger area and impact more people.
Hoppes said the snow will be heavy and wet. Temperatures aren’t expected to drop low enough to freeze roads, but Hoppes warned that roads will be slushy and whiteout conditions are possible. Heavy winds are expected to usher in the second round of snow on Friday, which will reduce visibility and possibly create a blizzard.
There’s an added risk for tree breakage because leaves are still on many trees, which can collect additional snowfall and weigh the branches down. Hoppes said there’s potential for tree branches to hit and take down power lines as they break, causing power outages.
Grand Forks is also in a flood warning and the Red River is predicted to reach 33.5 feet Wednesday, recede slightly and crest Monday at 34.8 feet. Last month was the rainiest September in Grand Forks history, according to the weather service. Many basements flooded throughout town and farmers have struggled to harvest their crops in flooded or muddy fields.
Hoppes said the wet fall could exacerbate flooding in the spring, though predictions for the overall month of October place precipitation just slightly above the normal.
October is still forecasted to come in slightly warmer than normal for average temperatures, despite the cold, snowy start to the month, according to Hoppes.
Temperatures are predicted to remain in the 30s early next week, meaning the snow could stick around through a portion of the week.