If the forecasts for snow come true, this week's winter storm would blow past the record book for the snowiest October and the heaviest snowfall from a single storm in the month for Jamestown, according to Bill Abeling, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Bismarck.
The first wave of the storm brought snow Thursday morning with more intense snow in the forecast for Friday and continuing through the weekend.
"It is right up there with the most uncomfortable days in October history," he said, referring to this week's storm. "... we could be setting records."
The record for the most snow in Jamestown during the month of October goes back to 1896 when the staff of the North Dakota State Hospital measured 10.6 inches.
The record for the most snow from a single October storm is a little more current, set in 2009 when 8 inches were reported over two days. The 2009 storm caused power outages when snow-laden tree branches broke down and struck power lines. Slippery roads attributed to the snow and rain were also blamed for three traffic deaths in the state.
Abeling said this storm system is still difficult to predict and snow amounts will vary locally. That said, the Jamestown area could see between 20 and 21 inches of snow from Thursday through Sunday, Abeling said. Further north, in the Devils Lake basin, snowfall amounts could be greater.
Mickey Nenow, Stutsman County road superintendent, said the winter snow is coming while road crews had been doing the seasonal fall work of blading roads.
"Interrupt that to do some snowplowing," he said. "Hopefully we can get back to doing some blading work after the snow melts."
Nenow said the amount of moisture in the snow could contribute to additional problems with soft roads and potentially raise the level of standing water in some areas above the road surface.
Rick Lipetzky, who was appointed Jamestown street foreman on Monday, said his department had everything ready for snow removal.
"Just doing some last-minute preventative maintenance," he said on Thursday afternoon.
Jerry Bergquist, Stutsman County emergency manager, said he had two concerns with the storm.
Wet snow falling on trees that still carried a lot of leaves could lead to downed branches that could block streets. As the leaves fall in the wind and snow, the debris could also block storm drain inlets causing local overland and urban flooding.
The Jamestown city engineer's office asked residents Thursday to monitor storm drains near their homes for clogs and to clear them if necessary.
"Once we deal with the snow, we have to move the water out of the area," Bergquist said, addressing his second concern. "We'll have to look at the amount of moisture that falls above the dams and what we'll have to do to clear water from the reservoirs."
Pipestem Reservoir is more than 17 feet above its flood control level while Jamestown Reservoir is still rising. Combined releases from the two dams are 1,300 cubic feet per second which has elevated the James River level through Jamestown and beyond with officials at LaMoure anticipating the James River to exceed flood stage there this weekend.
Bergquist said this amount of moisture in the fall of the year is uncharted territory.
"I've talked with the (U.S. Army) Corps of Engineers," he said. "Nothing in their records show how to deal with this much moisture in the system this late in the year."
Bergquist anticipates a new plan from the Corps of Engineers next week which could change the amount of the releases and the length of time high levels of releases will be maintained this fall.
"We have to get past the storm," he said. "Then everything is being reconsidered and recalculated."