Snowstorm exits

Kim Fundingsland/MDN A woman shovels snow from a driveway in southeast Minot at mid-afternoon Monday. Due to temperatures hovering around the freezing mark, rainfall preceded the snow in many areas. The National Weather Service cautions people not to over-exert themselves trying to move heavy, wet snow.

As winter storms go, the latest one to hit the Minot region ranks high on the inconvenience meter. The start of measurable snowfall associated with the storm was dependent on temperatures. In the Minot region the thermometer stayed just above the freezing mark for several hours as the storm pushed its way into the area on Sunday. The result was rain rather than snow.

However, by Monday morning the thermometer dipped a degree or two below the freezing mark and the light drizzle turned to snow. In between there was sleet, fog, freezing rain, thunder, lightning or any other of several descriptions used to identify what was happening with the weather.

“A line of thunderstorms moved through the Minot area. It was a push of energy,” said Patrick Ayd, meteorologist, National Weather Service, Bismarck. “Then came dry air into western and central North Dakota. Then, as the moisture ramped up, we saw things fill in. A degree or two in air temperature makes a big difference. In Minot you should be pretty much over this storm by mid-morning Tuesday.”

The NWS had warned late last week that a major storm was moving into the Dakotas. As it turned out, it arrived a few hours behind schedule. It also, especially in the Minot area, seemed as though it wouldn’t really dump as much snow as the NWS had in their forecasts. Early Monday morning the NWS noted that the pending storm wasn’t exactly producing any visible results but warned, “Don’t be fooled by the lack of snow early this morning.”

Right they were. The snow began falling in earnest and, by early afternoon, had dumped 4-6 inches in the Minot region with the promise of heavier snowfall to come.

“This is the most significant storm we’ve had this season, a strong winter storm,” said Ayd. “It’s not abnormal for March to have big storms. It is our snowiest month in most locations. These March storms are more energetic and have more moisture with them.”

Records show that the largest single day March snowfall for Minot was 15 inches in 1920. Second is 13 inches in 1985, followed by 10 inches on a single day in 1910. So, this storm will likely earn a spot somewhere near the top of the all-time records with the expectation that final snow totals for Minot and the surrounding area will fall in the 8-12 inch range, perhaps higher in certain areas.

The storm had a counter-clockwise movement to it. Heavy snow that was falling in the southeast part of the state began to push to the northwest Monday p.m.

“That’s not uncommon for these big systems,” said Ayd.

What’s next? More storms? Well, none that are lurking or building at the moment.

“Spring will come at some point,” reminded Ayd. “It does every year. Ahead for us it looks quiet but maybe a little bit cool for early March. We should be back into the 30’s for Friday and the weekend.”