Oh no! Friday forecast calls for heavy snow

City, schools brace for winter weather invading the region

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Posted: Thursday, October 10, 2019 5:40 pm

The first winter storm of the season came as a sucker punch to much of North Dakota.

According to the National Weather Service, an estimated 12-18 inches of snow was forecast to fall across central and northeastern portions of the state today into Saturday.

Those totals were to arrive on top of an existing foot of snow expected to fall over portions of the state Thursday.

The 1-2 combination of snowfall events set up a potentially historic – and devastating – early-season storm system.

“For an October storm, this could quite possibly be record-breaking and record-setting for any winter storm some areas have seen,” said meteorologist Nick Carletta with the National Weather Service office in Grand Forks.

“The system is really unheard of for this area,” he added. “This is the type of snow you usually see in a nor’easter.”

Snow totals were expected to approach 2 to 3 feet in the Devils Lake, N.D. and Langdon, N.D. areas by Saturday. 

Closer to Traill County, locations near Hatton could see in excess of a foot of snow while Mayville and Hillsboro were forecast to receive 8-12 inches in the second round of snow.

Carletta admitted snow totals for the storm were difficult to predict due to temperatures hovering above freezing out ahead of the system and the heavy, wet snow forecast to fall.

“Honestly, we have some very experienced forecasters who have been here since the ’90s say that this is one of the hardest storms they’ve forecast,” Carletta said.

This fall has already been unkind to many in North Dakota.

Last month was the wettest September on record in the city limits of Grand Forks and one of the wettest months of all time across the Red River Valley.

The Grand Forks National Weather Service office measured 9.07 inches of rain in September, which shattered the month’s 62-year-old previous record by more than 1.5 inches.

The saturated ground has treated growers to stuck tractors and damaged crops as sugar beet and soybean harvests are off to slow starts.

Hillsboro and surrounding areas were forecast to receive nearly 2 additional inches of liquid equivalent precipitation during this week’s storm, with around half that falling as rain Thursday.

Colder air was expected to move in Friday morning with snow spreading across the region for much of the day.

In conjunction with the fresh snow, winds were forecast to gust above 40 mph this weekend, creating white-out conditions in open areas.

“The highest winds will mostly be west of the Red River Valley, but we could see some gusts,” Carletta said.

“With the wetter, heavier snow, it could be more difficult for it to blow around.”

The winter weather forced changes for both Hillsboro Public School’s and Central Valley School’s homecoming celebrations this week.

A planned parade around Hillsboro was changed to indoor activities at each school starting at 2 p.m. today.

The Hillsboro-Central Valley homecoming football game against Central Cass was moved from tonight to 7 p.m. Monday due to the storm.

School officials said the location of the game could be moved to the Squirrels’ artificial turf Monday in Casselton, although the game remained penciled in for Hillsboro when the Banner went to press at 2 p.m. Thursday. 

The sports co-op’s Thursday night volleyball game in Cavalier was rescheduled for Oct. 21. 

In addition, the team’s tournament in Langdon Saturday was canceled, as that city was forecast to be in the bullseye of snow totals with anywhere from 30 to 42 inches possible.

“Closer to the Canadian border there, the snow totals will probably be measured in feet rather than inches,” Carletta said.

The meteorologist did offer a silver lining, however.

Drier weather is predicted into next week, though temperatures will struggle to make it out of the 30s in snow-covered areas.

“Early in the fall, the sun still has some power, so you’ll see the snow go down when it’s clear outside,” he said.

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