Mid-March storm will be monster in some places in ND and northwest Minnesota, but not in other spots
Winds are expected to be very strong throughout the region, however, causing blizzard conditions.
FARGO — The mid-March storm that's being called a monster by some is really going to vary in strength in different areas across North Dakota and northwest Minnesota.
"There's going to be a huge difference from place to place," said WDAY Chief Meteorologist John Wheeler. "What one neighbor sees out their window, is not what someone else not too far away might see."
As of about 10 p.m., for example, the blizzard was raging west of Fargo with heavy wet snow near Valley City and Jamestown and into south-central North Dakota where no travel is advised. Meanwhile in Fargo, precipitation switched between wet snow and rain in the early evening, with the temperature hovering around 32 degrees.
Then, neighbors just across the border in Minnesota were seeing 36-degree weather and only rain in Fergus Falls and Detroit Lakes. But heavy rain had already fallen on the area, with from a half inch to an inch of rain there, Wheeler said.
The forecast has changed a little for the overnight in Fargo, too, as Wheeler now thinks there might be a lull in the storm, leaving the city with only 1 inch to 3 inches of snow. However, farther west and north of the city there could be much heavier amounts, perhaps as high as a foot in some places.
What will be common across much of the area, however, is very windy conditions. Wheeler thinks there could be wind gusts of up to 50 mph in the Red River Valley and possibly up to 60 mph farther west in the night and through the daylight hours on Thursday.
Meteorologist Bill Barrett of the National Weather Service in Grand Forks agrees with most of that forecast, although he thinks there could be a bit more snowfall in Fargo, possibly up to 6 inches.
Barrett thinks the snowfall in Grand Forks could reach a foot and possibly even higher in some places in eastern and northern North Dakota and northwest Minnesota.
He said the blizzard warning that starts at 10 p.m. Wednesday and continues until 1 a.m. Friday morning is still in effect for North Dakota and parts of northwest Minnesota.
"It's going to be problematic," he said about driving conditions.
The wind, he said, is what's causing the blizzard conditions, but he said they may start diminishing Thursday night.
Farther west in Bismarck, meteorologist Alex Edwards said they were still waiting for the snow at 10 p.m.
He described what is a a "dry layer" below the clouds in the area that was hanging on making the snow evaporate. He said that makes it difficult to predict snowfall amounts.
As of late evening, he said the real problems were in LaMoure and Dickey counties south of Jamestown near the South Dakota border, where they have had a couple hours of snow with drifting and only a quarter mile of visibility.
In Bismarck, Edwards is predicting there will be anywhere from 4.5 inches to 6 inches of snow until it tapers off in late morning Thursday.
As the other weather forecasters predicted, though, he said winds will cause trouble across the central part of the state, with speeds reaching 20 mph to 35 mph throughout the day with gusts up to 45 mph and then tapering off Thursday night.