First widespread snow of the season in forecast
The snow in the forecast for Thursday could be considered the first widespread snow event of the winter, according to Adam Jones, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Bismarck.
An advisory from the National Weather Service said the Jamestown area could receive from 2 to 4 inches of snow with the bulk of it falling during the day Thursday.
"A little breezy but nothing like a blizzard with it," Jones said. "Look for higher amounts of snow to the south and less to the north."
The National Weather Service issued a winter advisory for much of central and south-central North Dakota through 7 p.m. Thursday. The watch area includes from U.S. Highway 200 in the north and extends into South Dakota on the south.
The weather advisory says travel could be difficult in the watch area.
Jones said while this system will clear by Friday, another weather system may enter the area for the weekend.
"We have another snow event Saturday into Sunday," he said. "Right now, it looks similar to this system but that could change."
Temperatures while the two weather systems pass through the area will be below normal although that could change later next week, said Daryl Ritchison, director of the North Dakota Agricultural Weather Network.
"We'll melt off the snow we receive eventually," he said. "Next week, after about Wednesday, temperatures will be average to a bit above average."
Average temperatures this time of year include normal highs of about 55 degrees and normal lows around 31.
Looking farther into the winter, Ritchison said a La Nina current in the Pacific Ocean makes forecasting weather in North Dakota more difficult.
"La Nina is the cold cousin of El Nino," he said. "The La Nina pattern is not as consistent as the El Nino."
"Typically, the La Nina is considered colder than average," Ritchison said. "You have to remember though that 2011 to 2012 was a La Nina winter and it is on record as one of the warmest winters in North Dakota."
Ritchison said he is forecasting temperatures to be 1 or 2 degrees below normal through this winter with about average snowfall in the Jamestown area.
The average winter snow for Jamestown, computed over the past 30 years and based on measurements taken at the North Dakota State Hospital, is 39 inches.
"Just one or two storms that either hit us or miss us can mess up that average though," he said.