Possible historic blizzard will bring 'crippling' impacts to region Wednesday evening through Friday morning
FARGO — The National Weather Service didn't mince words Tuesday afternoon, March 12, when it released an updated picture of an expected historic blizzard that could have "crippling" impacts on the region from Wednesday evening through Friday morning.
The weather service said the storm in the Fargo-Moorhead area will start Wednesday afternoon, possibly beginning with rain and changing to snow through the evening hours into Wednesday night.
The system may bring blizzard-force winds of 50 to 60 mph — or possibly higher — which are expected to blast across much of North Dakota and west-central Minnesota all day Thursday and into Friday morning.
The weather service said the strong winds will combine with heavy snow over much of North Dakota, with a snowfall range expected for the Fargo-Moorhead area of 6 to 12 inches over the course of the storm.
The weather service said it is difficult to say exactly what type of precipitation specific locations will receive. But in general, snow will fall over much of North Dakota, with the Fargo-Moorhead area in a snow/rain transition zone, meaning the metro area could receive a mix of rain and snow Wednesday, switching mostly to snow Thursday through Friday morning.
The weather service said the blizzard will be the worst of the winter and it may be the worst winter storm the region has seen in years.
The rain component of the storm, combined with very strong winds, creates the potential for damage to power lines and street flooding may occur in places where rain falls and drains have not been cleared, according to the weather service.
John Wheeler, chief meteorologist for WDAY-TV, said it was difficult to say Tuesday where prolonged freezing rain may occur, but in places where it does, the risk will be high for power outages.
Because snowfall totals of a foot or more are possible in the region, the weather service said the danger of roof collapses will be high, particularly for weaker structures, given the amount of snow already on roofs.
According to the weather service website, the Fargo-Moorhead area could receive as much as 1.2 inches of moisture from the storm. Included in that moisture could be about 6.7 inches of new snow.
The weather service stressed that winds of 50-60 mph or greater will be around for an extended period of time, making travel in many areas nearly impossible from Wednesday evening through Friday morning.