FARGO — Forecasters are keeping their eyes on potential weather conditions that could bring snow to the Red River Valley on Sunday and Monday, March 15 and 16, but caution that it’s too early to make predictions.
Forecasting models indicate that conditions in the Pacific Ocean could develop into a storm that could bring snow, although it’s also possible that nothing will happen, WDAY Chief Meteorologist John Wheeler said Wednesday, March 11.
“We are actually not tracking a storm at this point,” he said. Colder temperatures are expected to continue, and Wheeler believes cold, dry air from Ontario will descend into the area later this week.
“It will be fairly cold and dry,” he said. As the system develops, it’s likely to generate a dry east wind, although snow is possible.
“There’s tremendous uncertainty about what the weekend will bring,” Wheeler said. “It might turn out to be absolutely nothing.”
Wheeler doubts that any snow would be a “massive game-changer” in the outcome of the Red River spring flood.
The real vulnerability, he stressed, is the possibility heavy moisture could fall during the rest of March and early April — and heavy rains coinciding with rivers starting to rise could produce a very bad flood.
Three previous major floods, in 1969, 1997 and 2009, all involved heavy rains as the rivers were starting to rise, Wheeler said.
“The window of getting heavy precipitation that really affects this flood is still wide open,” Wheeler said.
Also, he said, most of the moisture that came with the heavy snows earlier remains a factor.
“We still have most of that water content we had in the snow in mid-January,” Wheeler added. “The moisture content is largely unchanged.”
The National Weather Service’s forecast predicts snow is likely Sunday, March 15, with a 60% chance of snow during the day, and the probability increasing to 70% Sunday night, then decreasing to 50% Monday.
“We don’t have amounts quite yet,” said Tim Lynch, a weather service meteorologist. Forecasters are closely monitoring the potential for both snow accumulations and the water content in the snow, he said.
As of now, forecasting models suggest a “long-lived, light-to-moderate snow over a long period,” with a wide range of possibilities, Lynch said. Winds shouldn’t be a big problem, he said, but gusty winds are possible Monday as the snow is tapering off.
The National Weather Service will issue its latest outlook for the spring flood on Thursday, March 12.