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Kirsten Stromsodt, Published April 13 2013

Storm could drop foot of snow on area

FARGO – The Red River Valley is waking up to another Sunday snowstorm today, and this one could drop almost a foot of snow on the area.

The National Weather Service in Grand Forks issued a winter storm warning that included the entire state of North Dakota and parts of western Minnesota about 6:30 a.m. Saturday. The storm is set to last until Monday morning.

Significant snow and winds between 25 and 35 miles per hour are expected through early Monday, which will result in near-blizzard conditions.

Dan Riddle, meteorologist at the weather service, said Fargo can expect 10 inches of snow, falling mostly before a “dry slot” opens up in the system late afternoon or early evening.

Forecast confidence with this storm is high, Riddle said, “but it’s hard to know for sure until the storm occurs, until it starts showing its tail.”

To the north, Hillsboro and Grand Forks can expect a foot of snow, but “the heaviest of the heavy” 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.

“These are certainly not narrow bands,” Riddle said.

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 is bringing 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.

The snow will slowly taper off Monday morning, and temperatures are forecast to reach the mid-30s – still close to 20 degrees below average for this time of year. Riddle said 40 will be “a possibility” by Saturday.

“Having April snow is not unusual, but having the extended period of 20 (degrees) below normal high temperatures is highly unusual.”

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.

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Reporter Charly Haley contributed to this report. Readers can reach Kirsten Stromsodt at (701) 241-5582