Freezing rain, snow, near-blizzard conditions possible as major winter storm heads into Red River Valley
The first major winter storm of 2013 could drop 6 to 10 inches of snow by the weekend in the Devils Lake Basin and the northern Red River Valley, while areas to the south could see rain and freezing rain.
That's according to the National Weather Service office in Grand Forks, which placed all of North Dakota and most of northwest Minnesota under a winter storm watch starting Thursday night and into Saturday morning.
While it's too early to predict the exact path of the storm yet, conditions are expected to start deteriorating by late Thursday afternoon or evening, with the potential for a major winter storm for Friday into early Saturday.
"The way it's looking right now, Thursday's going to be a fairly nice day," said Jennifer Ritterling, a meteorologist with the weather service's Grand Forks office. "From what we can see right now, Thursday night into Saturday morning don't look too good."
Here's what's in store, according to the agency's forecast Wednesday afternoon:
Freezing rain and ice: A storm from the south is expected to bring precipitation into southeastern North Dakota and west-central Minnesota Thursday night. Some of it will be in the form of freezing rain and ice accumulation is possible, mainly south and east of a line stretching from Cooperstown, N.D., to Grand Forks to Hallock, Minn.
Bemidji and Detroit Lakes, Minn., could see ice accumulations close to a quarter inch.
Snow: At the same time, a storm from the west is expected to bring snow starting in the Devils Lake Basin Thursday night and spreading south and east. By Friday night, it'll be cold enough that the whole storm watch area could see snow.
The heaviest accumulation could be in an area from Devils Lake to Roseau, Minn., with 8 to 10 inches possible. To the south as far as a line from Valley City, N.D., to Bemidji, there could be 6 to 8 inches of snow.
Strong winds are expected Friday night with near-blizzard conditions, with visibility reduced to a half or even a quarter mile. The strongest winds will mainly be from the Red River Valley westward.