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Here comes winter: Tracking our first big storm of the season

WDAY's StormTRACKER meteorologists are watching the storm; check back for updates.

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Updated Thursday, November 10 at 8:30 p.m.: As the big upper level low pressure center of this big storm passes over the Red River Valley this evening, it is delivering one final burst of measurable snow before it tapers off rapidly after midnight. Our final snow forecast map has a few small adjustments reflecting this. Open country blizzard conditions will gradually diminish to just blowing and drifting overnight.

Further south, the roads across southeastern North Dakota and west-central Minnesota, as in the greater Fargo area, have gotten extremely icy with colder temperatures and snow on top of the ice. Roads will be worse or just as bad in the morning.

Friday will be blustery, with enough wind to keep snow drifting some. Temperatures will be cold enough to keep frozen what's frozen. Plow and sand/salt truck drivers will have work to do.

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StormTRACKER

We've got news reports on WDAY News at 9 on Xtra and at 10 p.m. on ABC. That will likely be our last work on this storm except for snow reports tomorrow. And, of course, road reports as travel conditions gradually improve. Welcome to the winter of 2022-23.

Updated Thursday, November 10 at 4 p.m.: Just a quick note as our evening newscasts get going. Dry air continues to limit snow potential in the Red River Valley and northwestern Minnesota. Grand Forks picked up about 3" through 3:30 p.m. and we will cut back this area to a total of 3-6" The greater Fargo area is getting all snow now, but any accumulation of snow will be light. Just enough to whiten the ground. We got a report from New Salem, ND, out west, of 16". Around a foot in Bismarck. About 6" in Jamestown. These areas are still getting snow. Watch our shows at 4,5,and 6 p.m. and we will update this article later this evening.

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Updated Thursday, November 10 at 1:45 p.m.: Very heavy snow has moved into the Grand Forks area and it continues to fall heavily throughout east-central through western North Dakota. Many areas around greater Bismarck have received around a foot of snow already. Our forecast of 6-10" for Grand Forks still looks about right. Closer to the Canadian border, , dry air in the lowest part of the atmosphere has been drying up the snow you are seeing on radar before it reaches the ground. Some accumulation is still expected today and tonight. Where it has been snowing, wind is producing near whiteout conditions and heavy drifting. These conditions will continue this afternoon with snow tapering off tonight.

In and around Fargo, freezing rain, sleet, and snow continue to create hazardous driving conditions. Total accumulations in Fargo Moorhead will likely only be an inch or so, however, driving conditions will worsen this afternoon and tonight.

South and east of Fargo, there will be little to no snow accumulation. However, drivers should remain cautions as slick spots are likely to form as temperatures drop.

We are continuing to monitor the storm for changes to the ongoing forecast so continue to check back with us. Here is our latest snow totals forecast.

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StormTRACKER

Updated Thursday, November 10 at 8:45 am.: After nearly two hours of rain falling in the southern valley this morning, ice has formed on many objects outside that are below 32°. Trees, bridges, and anything that air can get around and cool (to below 32°) are very icy. Many roads in the area may just be wet, and that is because the ground temperature is still slightly above freezing, which is allowing the roads to stay wet and not icy. However, that will be changing as temperatures continue to fall into the afternoon, eventually the roadways will become slick.

North of the Fargo metro road temperatures are below freezing, so they have become very slick where rain fell this morning. I-29 was closed temporarily this morning from Fargo to Grand Forks due to many accidents along the interstate caused by accumulating ice on the roadway. Snow has just begun in the Northern Valley, and will continue to fall through the day.

Stay tuned to the StormTRACKER team for updates.

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**Update at 9:45am, I-29 has been re-opened.

Latest video update from Thursday morning, Nov. 10:

Updated Wednesday, November 9 at 8:30 p.m.: The storm is starting to come together now. Thundershowers have formed in South Dakota and are moving northward into the colder air. During the night, much of southeastern North Dakota including the Fargo area will begin to experience showers, possibly with a little thunder, of freezing rain and sleet. This will cause serious icing conditions by morning.

Accumulations of sleet also can make for extremely dangerous travel, especially when road surfaces are icy underneath the ice pellets.

By morning, we will be facing, from west to east across the region, heavy snow and wind, sleet, freezing rain, and lingering liquid rain in west-central Minnesota. Driving will be extremely difficult where it is below freezing. During the day, the snow will gradually spread from west to east, depositing snow on top of whatever ice and sleet has accumulated.

Along and north of U.S. Highway 2, things will take longer to develop. The weather in these northern areas Thursday will mostly be snow and blowing snow with poor visibility and drifting.

Our snow total forecast remains unchanged. See the maps below.

Updated Wednesday, November 9 at 3:30 p.m.: The National Weather Service warnings and advisories are set. Now we're just waiting for the storm. We are still expecting 6-10" of snow with blizzard or near-blizzard conditions from central through northeastern North Dakota and into far northwestern Minnesota where a Blizzard Warning has been issued. This does include the Grand Forks area.

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Travel conditions in these areas will deteriorate tonight and will be at their worst Thursday into Thursday night with heavy drifting and poor visibility likely.

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From northeastern South Dakota across southeastern North Dakota on into northern Minnesota, to include Aberdeen, Fargo, and Bemidji, there is a combination of Ice Storm Warning and Winter Storm Warning. People in these areas will likely see freezing rain transition to sleet and then finally snow. Significant accumulations of either freezing rain or sleet appear likely in some areas.

Travel will become extremely difficult if not impossible in these areas, even in urban areas such as Fargo, due to the icy precipitation followed by snow and wind.

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StormTRACKER

Further southeast, there will be less of the frozen precipitation and more liquid rain. Some roads may become slick as temperatures drop Thursday. The weather is expected to improve Friday although it will remain blustery and many roads may be blocked or very icy.

Updated Wednesday, November 9 at 12:42 pm: A Winter Weather Advisory continues and has been extended today for southeastern North Dakota and the central Red River Valley. Freezing drizzle and light freezing rain is possible through the daytime hours today. This may create some icy or slick spots on the roadways, but this is not the main event.

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Wednesday ice pellets
Christina Knutson

The forecast remains on track and now Blizzard Warnings, Winter Storm Warnings and Winter Weather Advisories have been activated. These winter alerts go into effect tonight into early Thursday morning as the main storm system ramps up and brings an assortment of wintry weather to our region.

Folks in the blizzard-warned areas can expect mainly snow with this system and plenty of it with 5-10 inches likely from Ellendale through Jamestown, Devils Lake to Grand Forks and up into northwestern Minnesota.

There will be places that see higher snowfall totals than that but it may be difficult to measure as we will experience blowing snow as well. Intense winds from the north at 15-30 mph with gusts topping 45 mph at times will drastically reduce the visibility tonight through Friday morning.

A Winter Storm Warning will be in effect tonight through early Friday morning from southeastern North Dakota to north central Minnesota on a line stretching from Oakes to Fargo-Moorhead, across much of western Lakes Country up to Bemidji. This area can expect rain transitioning to freezing rain and sleet tonight and into Thursday morning before switching completely over to snow by midday Thursday. Snow accumulations will be lighter in this area with 2-5" possible but icing of sidewalks and roadways will make travel very difficult on Thursday, especially as the snow piles up on top of any ice that forms.

Updated Wednesday, November 9 at 7:45 am: A few leading light mixed showers are moving through the region this morning, but they are not the start of the larger system that follows later on.
This morning, the National Weather Service (NWS) in Bismarck upgraded the previous Winter Storm Watch to a Winter Storm Warning or a Blizzard Warning depending on the location. The NWS in Grand Forks has not yet issued warnings as of this morning update, but those warnings will be issued later on today for much of the area. The main impacts from the storm will still be likely late tonight into Thursday Evening, with snow winding down by Friday morning and a strong wind to follow. Travel impacts are expected to last until Friday with the strong wind trailing the storm, bringing drifting snow and low visibility for many.

Stay tuned to the StormTRACKER team for updates when warnings get issued later on today.

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StormTRACKER Graphics

Updated Tuesday, November 8 at 9:40 pm.: The storm continues to strengthen in the southwestern U.S. and southern Rockies. Tonight and Wednesday across our region there will only be a few areas of very light rain, light mixed precipitation, or light snow, from south to north, with no significant travel problems expected.

Wednesday, the National Weather Service will likely change all or part of the Winter Storm Watch to a full Winter Storm Warning. Some parts may remain in a watch or be placed into a Winter Weather Advisory. The main impacts from the storm will still likely be Thursday and Thursday night with residual icy roads and drifting snow Friday.

Forecasters will be looking at how dry air coming in from the north Thursday might reduce the expectations for heavy snow in some parts of the area. Also, we will be watching for the duration of freezing rain and sleet and how dry air coming in from the southwest might limit or eliminate ice accumulations in some areas. To our southeast, we will continue to monitor the computer weather model trends for the potential for heavy rain to the southeast of the greater Fargo area. As of Tuesday night, we are still expecting a band of heavy snow from roughly Bismarck to Grand Forks into northern Minnesota where a general 5-10" of snow is expected. Dry air and mixed precipitation will likely limit the total accumulation in and around Fargo to a couple inches or a little more, but with freezing rain or sleet preceding the snow. See the maps of expected amounts below.

Check back tomorrow for updates.

Updated Tuesday, November 8 at 3:15 p.m.: The storm is beginning to come into better focus now. The low will likely pass just southeast of Fargo on a southwest to northeast track. The heaviest snow is likely to fall Thursday and Thursday night on a line roughly from Bismarck through Grand Forks and on into northern Minnesota.
Heavy rain Thursday into Friday from northeastern South Dakota across to Duluth will take moisture from the snowy part of the storm, limiting the overall amounts. There is concern that some of this rain will turn to sleet or freezing rain, mainly on Thursday, also limiting snow totals for parts of the area, but causing icy roads for some areas. By Friday, most of the significant precipitation in our area is likely to have ended, but light snow and blustery winds with icy roads may extend the travel difficulties.

Updated: Tuesday, November 8 at 5:55 a.m.: The National Weather Service offices around the region have issued a winter storm watch. This storm has the potential to bring heavy snow, freezing rain, and blowing snow. Parts of South Dakota, North Dakota, and up into Northern Minnesota could see 6 to 12 inches of snow. This next winter system is still on track to arrive in the region Thursday through Friday. A lot of uncertainty remains as it is still only Tuesday, but if the track of the winter storm stays, then we can expect very difficult travel conditions over parts of the region.

Updated: Monday, November 7 at 10:45 p.m.: The latest model output tonight continues to suggest that the main rain-snow line will past southwest to northeast fairly close to the Fargo Moorhead area Thursday. The area of heavy snow and wind will likely be to the west and north of this line. However, two big unknowns remain. Will the low slow down enough for heavy snow to wrap around after the low has passed, and will a dry slot choke off this process with dry air? It's still far to early to make a wild guess on snow amounts, but totals of a foot or so seem probably wherever the band of heaviest snow does fall. Wind may well get to blizzard force as well. We will update this forecast Tuesday.

FARGO — It is still three to four days out, too far away for a confident, precise forecast; but there is enough evidence to be concerned about the potential of winter's first big storm headed our way at the end of the week.

A strong low-pressure system off the Pacific Northwest coast Monday is expected to track southward along the west coast, bringing much needed rain and mountain snow to California, before moving out into the Great Plains later this week. Although its path through our region is not yet certain, it is likely to bring a swath of heavy snow and wind with temperatures in the teens and 20s on its northwest side; with rain and thunderstorms in temperatures up to 50 degrees warmer to its southeast.

Along and near the path of the low, itself, there is even greater uncertainty due to a likely "dry slot," which is a region of dry air at mid-levels of the atmosphere known for choking off potentially heavy precipitation to some parts of these storms and is notoriously hard to forecast in advance.

At this point, what is known is that there is likely to be a big winter storm in our region for part or all of Thursday and Friday. Somewhere in our area, there is likely to be a southwest to northeast oriented band of heavy snow and blizzard-force wind. There could also be a narrow band of freezing rain, sleet, or mixed winter precipitation. Any of this will probably be enough to severely disrupt work, school, and travel. What we do not know is where exactly these things will happen and exactly when conditions will deteriorate.

Much colder weather, with freezing days and near to below zero nights, are likely to follow the storm over the weekend and into next week.

Related Topics: WEATHERSEVERE WEATHER
John Wheeler is Chief Meteorologist for WDAY, a position he has had since May of 1985. Wheeler grew up in the South, in Louisiana and Alabama, and cites his family's move to the Midwest as important to developing his fascination with weather and climate. Wheeler lived in Wisconsin and Iowa as a teenager. He attended Iowa State University and achieved a B.S. degree in Meteorology in 1984. Wheeler worked about a year at WOI-TV in central Iowa before moving to Fargo and WDAY..
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