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John Lamb, Published April 14 2013

Blizzard from Jamestown west; Fargo-Moorhead area will see snow, wind lasting into Monday afternoon

FARGO – A blizzard warning now extends from the Jamestown area west across North Dakota.

The warning, expected to expire at 10 p.m. Sunday, includes the following counties: Burleigh; Dickey; Emmons; Foster; Kidder; La Moure; Logan; McIntosh; Sheridan; Stutsman; Wells.

Meanwhile, a winter storm warning extended across the east and southeastern portions of the state, including Fargo, Valley City and Wahpeton.

The storm, expected to bring from 3 to 7 inches of snow and winds gusting from 30 to 35 miles per hour in Fargo-Moorhead, was delayed six to 12 hours, said Bill Barrett, a meteorologist technician at the National Weather Service in Grand Forks. The storm was originally forecast to hit Fargo early Sunday morning. It didn't start arriving there until Sunday afternoon.

Interstate 94 is closed across North Dakota and Interstate 29 is closed from Fargo to Grand Forks, according to the state department of transportation. No travel is advised in the east or southeast part of the state, including areas around Fargo, Valley City and Wahpeton, according to NDDOT, which also pulled plows in many rural areas due to low visibility.

The storm is tracking east and northeast.

Blizzard conditions feature 35 miles-per-hour sustained winds for two to three hours, and visibility of a quarter mile or less.

Until Sunday afternoon, the storm stayed south and west of the Red River Valley.

“The storm kind of took a dive into the central plains and will take some time to spin back up,” Barrett said.

The late arrival prolongs the storm’s duration and it is now expected to last until Monday afternoon in the Red River Valley.

Barrett said there were some good points to the forecast. For one, the moisture will fall as snow and freezing rain would stay south of the Fargo-Moorhead area.

“At least in one respect, that’s of course good,” he said. “It will be wetter snow, so it might not be prone to drift.”

To the north, Hillsboro and Grand Forks can expect a foot of snow, but the heaviest bands in this large system will extend east from Bismarck into Valley City and north into Devils Lake. These areas could receive as much as 15 inches of snow.

About 10 inches of snow also is forecast for the Wahpeton area and Fergus Falls in Minnesota. The chance for freezing rain and sleet increases in the extreme southern valley.

In preparation, Xcel Energy brought back local crews that had been in South Dakota helping repair lines after an ice storm early last week knocked out power to as many as 90,000 customers.

Just snow shouldn’t cause power outages, said Mark Nisbet, spokesman for Xcel Energy in Fargo, but freezing rain could have an impact.

“We are repositioning our crews in case the weather turns against us,” he said earlier.

“Having April snow is not unusual, but having the extended period of 20 (degrees) below-normal high temperatures is highly unusual,” said Dan Riddle, meteorologist with the weather service.

Riddle said Fargo looks to be a lock to break a 132-year-old record for latest first 50-degree day of spring. The record was set April 17, 1881.