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Storm is coming, just taking its sweet time

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FARGO – The latest winter storm of the season will be making an even later arrival.

The storm, expected to bring from 3 to 7 inches of snow and winds gusting from 30 to 35 miles per hour in Fargo, has been delayed from six to 12 hours, said Bill Barrett, a meteorologist technician at the National Weather Service in Grand Forks.

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While an area from Bismarck to Jamestown, north to Harvey and south to the South Dakota border is in a blizzard warning, Fargo and the Red River Valley won’t see much snowfall until later today.

As of 10 a.m., snow was falling in Bismarck, where the wind was up to 37 miles-per-hour and visibility was down to a quarter mile.

Blizzard conditions feature 35 miles-per-hour sustained winds for two to three hours, and visibility of a quarter mile or less.

The storm so far has stayed south of the Red River Valley.

“The storm kind of took a dive into the central plains and will take some time to spin back up,” Barrett said.

While flurries may appear later this morning and into early afternoon, substantial snows won’t start until mid-afternoon.

The late arrival prolongs the storm’s duration as it is now expected to last until Monday afternoon in the Red River Valley.

While the storm remained imminent, Barrett said there were some good points to the forecast. For one, the moisture will fall as snow and freezing rain would stay south of the area.

“At least in one respect, that’s of course good,” he said. “It will be wetter snow, so it might not be prone to drift.”

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

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.

“Having April snow is not unusual, but having the extended period of 20 (degrees) below-normal high temperatures is highly unusual,” said Dan Riddle, meteorologist with the weather service.

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.

Reporters Kirsten Stromsodt and Charly Haley contributed to this report.

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