What experts are already calling a potentially historic blizzard will consume North Dakota over the next few days — bringing anywhere from at least 12 to 30 inches of snow to our coverage area. But it isn’t the first April blizzard our state has experienced.
A little over 25 years ago, from April 4-7, 1997, a strong Colorado low brought the worst blizzard of the season for the state.
On April 2, 1997, President Bill Clinton even declared North Dakota a disaster area before the blizzard began.
Abnormally warm weather to start April that year had people thinking spring had arrived, according to the National Weather Service, much like this year. A deep surface low moved out of Colorado and into the state, with precipitation starting on Friday the 4th as rain in the eastern part of the state and freezing rain or sleet in the west. By Friday evening, the freezing rain and sleet had changed over to all snow in the west, moving into the central part of the state by Saturday afternoon and into eastern North Dakota later that night.
Snow was accumulating at 1.5-2 inches per hour, with 50-60 mph winds — leading to a blizzard. The blizzard ended Sunday the 6th.
Total damages from this blizzard were estimated at $44.7 million with two fatalities and 16 injuries; an estimated 100,000 cattle — approximately 10 percent of the state’s herd — were lost; many power poles fell and an estimated 75,000 homes were without power for some time; and I-94, I-29 and all other major highways were closed.
Snow totals from specific locations for April 4-7, 1997:
- Jamestown – 16 inches
- New Salem – 16 inches
- Center – 17 inches
- Bismarck – 17.5 inches
- Dickinson – 18 inches
- Washburn – 18 inches
- Hebron – 20 inches
- Mott – 22.5 inches
- Bowman – 24 inches
So what can we expect for 2022’s blizzard?
Chief Meteorologist Tom Schrader says this blizzard will have a lot of similarities to 1997’s.
The blizzard is coming from a Colorado low again and heading in the northeastern direction, and winds will easily hit 50-60 mph bringing a lot of moisture with it. He expects some of the state will get two to three inches of snow per hour.
He added that winds will strengthen Wednesday in both Minot and Bismarck.
Snow estimates for specific locations for April 12-14, 2022:
- Minot – 20-30 inches
- Bismarck – 12-24 inches
- Dickinson – 15-30 inches
- Williston – 15-25 inches
- Washburn – 15-30 inches
- New Town – 20-30 inches
- Elgin – 12-20 inches
- Bowman – 12-20 inches
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