Last weekend's blizzard was unusual in one sense; for much of Friday, Jan. 17, ground blizzard conditions were ongoing with the wind from the southeast. Much of the time, blizzards happen with wind coming from the north or northwest.
The wind on Saturday, Jan. 18, was most definitely from the northwest, but Friday's wind, which came largely without snowfall, was from the southeast. The deep snowpack already in place throughout the region drifted heavily in the southeast wind, depositing a great deal of windblown snow onto yards, roads, etc. on the southern parts of cities and towns across the region, resulting in enormous drifts.
Buildings, fences and other obstacles in windward areas catch a lot of snow in these situations, resulting in much deeper snow than is found across the area as a whole, giving the impression that more snow has fallen from the sky than actually has. The carefully measured snow total for the winter for Fargo is 41.0 inches with a current average depth of 19 inches. For Grand Forks, snow so far is 49.3 inches and the depth is 17 inches.