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Forum staff reports, Published April 12 2013

Storm could dump 7 to 14 inches on ND late this weekend

GRAND FORKS, N.D. – An intense late-season winter storm could dump between 7 and 14 inches of snow on North Dakota late this weekend, according to the National Weather Service.

Snow is expected to develop across southeast North Dakota late tonight, spreading northeastward across the area during the day Sunday, the weather service in Grand Forks said in a statement on its website.

The snow may become heavy at times Sunday, with strong east to northeast winds causing blowing snow and reduced visibility. Winds will shift to the northwest Sunday night or Monday morning as the system passes but remain strong, the weather service said.

“Some uncertainty remains regarding the exact track of the system, and where the heaviest snowfall will occur,” the statement reads. “The potential exists for 7 to 14 inches of snow, with locally higher amounts possible where more persistent heavy snow bands set up. A brief period of mixed precipitation is also possible on Sunday, mainly over far southeast North Dakota into a portion of west central Minnesota.”

The storm may significantly impact travel, the weather service said.

At the same time, the storm may only have a small impact on spring flooding.

Mike Lukes, a service hydrologist at the weather service, said the massive storm will probably add another three-fourths of an inch to 1 inch of precipitation to the current snow pack. Lukes said the added snow may increase the odds of a flood above 38.1 feet but only slightly.

In late March, the weather service said there is a 50-50 chance of the Red River topping 38.1 feet in Fargo and a 10 percent chance of a record-setting 40.9 feet.

Lukes said the snowfall will add to flood levels but the main concern still is how quickly the melt will progress.

Fortunately, Lukes said, cold temperatures also will accompany the weekend storm, with temps falling short of 40 degrees into late next week.

“The worst case scenario is we’ll see 70 to 80 degrees in one day but we don’t see that in the forecast right now,” he said. “This also puts us into a period of where we expect rain and rain showers so that ups the risk, too. We’re primed and ready though.”