Travel could be difficult Saturday, 'impossible' Sunday with incoming snowstorm
FARGO — Earlier this week, travelers and meteorologists thought the region was going to avoid any holiday storms causing travel troubles this year.
However, it's beginning to look like another holiday travel period with a winter storm messing up the roadways.
This weekend's storm could be a repeat of the Thanksgiving weekend storm with more than 6 inches of snow falling Saturday into Sunday, according to WDAY meteorologist Andrew Whitmyer. Potential blizzard conditions on Sunday could make travel "impossible," he said.
"We're still debating how much" snow will fall, Whitmyer said. "It could be comparable to the post-Thanksgiving storm."
However, National Weather Service meteorologist Dan Riddle of the Grand Forks office said he's "confident" the widespread storm will drop at least 6 inches snow — maybe even as much as a foot.
It's still a bit early to tell, he said, so it could be less, too.
Riddle said it seems difficult to avoid a winter storm or poor traveling conditions during the holidays.
"It's hard to get away from it," he said, recalling the winter storm a day after Christmas last year.
To make matters worse, the storm is expected to bring the heavy, wet snow that seems to stick to the roadways more easily instead of the dry snow that can sometimes just blow across the roads, Riddle said.
That's because the high temperatures are expected to be in the 20s all weekend.
Whitmyer said earlier this week it looked like the region might escape a major storm for the entire holiday travel period, but the jet stream "flipped" on Christmas Eve as this storm is expected to roll into the region from the Rocky Mountains in Colorado and head northeast.
Riddle said it was originally thought the storm would stay much farther south.
Regardless, Whitmyer said Friday will be the best travel day in this area. He said Saturday travel will be difficult with the snow starting about 6 a.m., and Sunday travel could become out of the question in parts of the area when wind picks up and snow continues falling.
Riddle said winds will be in the 20 to 30 mph range, with gusts possible up to 40 mph.
The storm could also linger into early Monday.
"It looks like a multi-day storm," Whitmyer said.
Riddle added that it could also be widespread with the current winter storm "watch" covering South Dakota, most of eastern North Dakota and northern Minnesota stretching south to the St. Cloud area.
Whitmyer said the Twin Cities may see "wet, cold rain" with some icy conditions.