‘Hard to believe’: Historic October snowfall forecast as storm hits Northern Rockies and Plains

A heavy, fall snow storm will be passing over the Northern Rockies and Plains in the next few days, and the National Weather Service is warning that some regions may experience blizzard conditions and potentially historic October snowfall, likely causing travel disruptions, power outages and impacts to cattle and agriculture throughout the region.

The NWS issued a forecast Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m. EDT predicting widespread moderate to heavy snow from southeast Montana into parts of the central and northern Plains. The snow system is expected to persist through Saturday.

The snowfall will be ongoing over Montana, but started spreading over the Plains Wednesday night. The storm is expected to then spread further into the Dakotas and northwest Minnesota by Saturday, where heavier snowfall totals are being predicted.

Historic snowfall levels are most likely to occur in the central and eastern regions of North Dakota, which may see between 12 and 24 inches with isolated heavier amounts expected.

These predictions are so unprecedented that even forecasters are a bit baffled.A NWS forecaster from the Grand Forks office issued a short term forecast around 4 a.m. CDT Thursday, noting it was, “The most difficult snow forecast and highest snowfall forecast of my 30-year career.”

The forecaster went on to say, “Hard to believe model data at this point. Chat with WPC [Weather Prediction Center] and they can’t believe it either.”

A Bismarck resident shared a video to Twitter early Thursday showing that a fluffy layer of snow had already covered the city.

Weather Nation also shared video of snow falling heavily over Bismarck as the sun rose and people were making their way to work.

NWS is warning that significant travel disruptions, downed trees and power outages, and impacts to livestock and agriculture are expected to occur through Saturday.

The NWS forecast office in Bismarck, N.D., shared photos to its Twitter account of affected roadways that have already been blanketed in snow, which are creating hazardous driving conditions.

The NWS Bismarck office is predicting that the central region of the state will see an additional four to six inches of snow through late Thursday, but regions in the eastern half of the state could be blanketed by twice as much snowfall — expected in the range of 12 to 15 inches by late Thursday.

Record cold temperatures are expected Friday in much of the region as well.

This story was reported from Los Angeles.