FARGO, North Dakota — Forecasters warned of snow, ice and messy driving conditions across parts of North Dakota on Monday, but said the moisture is a welcomed nuisance because of the dangerously dry conditions in much of the state.
Some areas in the northern part of the state could see 3 to 5 inches of snow in the next day or two, National Weather Service meteorologist Nathan Heinert said Monday. Another system is expected to roll through southern North Dakota on Wednesday, followed by another round of precipitation.
"It has been a fairly dry winter. Getting the moisture on the ground is going be a lot of help," he said. "The sooner we can green up the vegetation, the better."
Gov. Jack Dalrymple declared a state fire emergency last week after dry conditions, unseasonably high temperatures and strong winds led to several grass fires. The weather service issued red-flag warnings for the entire southern portion of the state to alert residents that conditions are ideal for wildfires.
"We're in a very active weather pattern finally, so we should get the moisture we need," Heinert said. "We have a lot of little pieces of energy riding through over the Northern Plains area, and each of these little waves is triggering some snow."
Heinert said this is the time of year that produces large storm systems because the warmer weather produces moisture. A storm in April two years ago socked the Bismarck area with 18 inches of snow.
On Monday, snow- and ice-covered roads prompted the state Department of Transportation to issue a travel alert for the Williston, Watford City, Stanley, Crosby and New Town areas. A travel alert means that motorists may encounter areas of challenging winter-weather driving conditions, but no roadways have been closed.
"It's more of a nuisance," Heinert said. "We don't have any warnings or anything like that out."