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Winter blast expected across North Dakota later this week

Winter blast expected across North Dakota later this week

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The nearly 1 ½ inches of snow that fell in Bismarck on Tuesday might be only a small taste of what's to come later in the week.

An early season blast of winter is expected to bring heavy snow to much of North Dakota late Wednesday through Thursday, with the National Weather Service predicting a "medium" chance of at least 6 inches for much of the lower half of the state. A circular area of "high" potential encompasses the Bismarck and Washburn areas, with another such area farther east stretching from Carrington to the South Dakota border.

"It looks like it has the potential to be pretty widespread," said Jeff Savadel, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Bismarck.

A winter storm watch that the weather service posted for much of southern North Dakota calls for the potential of up to 10 inches of snow in the Dickinson region and up to a foot in the Bismarck region. Winds could gust up to 35 mph. There also could be sleet and freezing rain along the South Dakota border.

The snow will move west to east across North Dakota, beginning Wednesday evening and ending Thursday night. Cold air promises to settle in, with overnight lows dipping into the teens and even the single digits in some areas.

"This will be the type of storm that we often see in autumn and spring," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Mike Doll said. "There will be a surge of warm, moist air northward into the central Plains and Midwest and a press of cold air across the Northern Plains."

The stretch of below-normal cold weather is due to a dip in the jet stream over the region, allowing for chilly Canadian air to plunge south, according to AccuWeather Meteorologist Brandon Buckingham.

Highs on Friday through the weekend in the Bismarck-Mandan area are forecast to be only in the 20s, with lows in the teens and single digits. There's also a good chance for more snow in the area on Saturday and Sunday, according to the weather service.

It's a little earlier than normal for heavy snow in Bismarck, but not by much. A La Nina year like this one -- when cooling of water in the central and eastern Pacific influences weather in the continental U.S. -- typically results in the first measurable snowfall for Bismarck happening around Nov. 1, according to the weather service.

Reach Blake Nicholson at 701-250-8266 or blake.nicholson@bismarcktribune.com.

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