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Weekend storm to drop moisture-laden snow on Fargo-Moorhead, likely impacting flood outlook

Snow covers vehicles at JWD Auto along Main Avenue in Fargo on Feb. 8.1 / 3
A Volkswagen sits buried in the TA parking lot at North Dakota State University as fresh snow falls on Feb. 26.2 / 3
Source: National Weather Service3 / 3

FARGO — A storm could bring more than 6 inches of snow to Fargo-Moorhead this weekend, and unlike this winter's previous systems of dry snow, the incoming storm will carry moisture that will likely impact the flood outlook in the Red River Valley.

That outlook from the National Weather Service is set to be released Thursday, March 7, and it will include moisture amounts anticipated from the storm hitting the area Saturday and into Sunday.

“The more precipitation we keep getting there's certainly a chance those (flood) projections will go higher. How much higher? It depends on the area. Some river points are more flood-prone,” said Bill Barrett of the NWS in Grand Forks.

Barrett said we’ll see a shift from February's dry snow to more “snowball-producing snow” due to warmer temperatures typical in March. “This one should be more of what we would expect in March that will contain more water,” he said.

Starting Saturday, highs near 30 degrees are forecast for the area, but this warm-up is only expected to last a few days.

Snow that accumulates over the weekend will be added to the season total so far of 49 inches in Fargo. In Grand Forks, that seasonal total is 60 inches.

How much water is inside those totals will be part of the flood outlook report on Thursday. The flood outlook report released Feb. 21 said the risk for significant flooding was substantial throughout the Red River Valley, running above long-term historical averages.

There have been several blizzards this winter, with dry snow being blown around. And while the weekend will be blustery — with gusts greater than 30 mph — the heavier snow could reduce chances of blowing snow.

Still, if a lot of snow falls in certain areas, visibility on the roads could be impacted. Barrett said he anticipates issues with visibility but it won't be quite as bad as previous blizzards.

WDAY meteorologist John Wheeler said the system is still developing over the Pacific Ocean, so there's not a firm handle on how severe the storm could be and that hinges on the path of the storm.

If the heart of the storm stays farther south, Wheeler said Fargo could see just a few inches. But if it moves farther north, some models over the last couple of days have predicted as much as 13 inches.

Kim Hyatt

Kim Hyatt is a reporter with The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead and a 2014 graduate of the University of Minnesota Duluth. She started her newspaper career at the Owatonna People’s Press covering arts and education. In 2016, she received Minnesota Newspaper Association's Dave Pyle New Journalist Award and later that year she joined The Forum newsroom.

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