winter blast 2018

Tomatoes lie in a light dusting of snow in this 2018 file photo. A similar cold snap is predicted as soon as Saturday morning. Tomatoes that achieve at least a slight blush can be ripened indoors, so covering them with plastic or a blanket at this stage could help gardeners add a few more tomatoes to their harvest.

Winter is coming, and not just to Winterfell. It’s on its way to northwestern North Dakota as well, according to the latest forecast from the National Weather Service.

Temperatures on Wednesday, Sept. 25, and Thursday, Sept. 26, were lower than normal for this time of year, but are still likely to be the warmest for the remainder of this week and the next.

A cold front is moving in that will bring the area more rain, likely on Thursday, as well as the first chance for frost on Saturday morning. Temperatures are predicted to range in the mid- to low-30s for the region, with colder areas trending north.

The chance for rain continues Saturday night through Monday, and is likely to be more widespread.

The precipitation will be on top of an already wetter than normal month for the region. For September, precipitation has already reached 7.42 inches of rain — 6.57 inches above normal.

The additional rain doesn't appear to pose any flooding threat so far. While it is expected to be widespread, it will likely occur over an extended period of time, rather than being dumped all at once.

There is also a slight chance of temperatures cold enough for snow flurries Monday and Tuesday.

“But we are not talking like inches or anything,” said Adam Jones, meteorologist for the National Weather Service. “If there is snow, it will just be a few flakes.”

Western Montana, meanwhile, is expecting significant ice and snow. That storm isn’t expected to reach too much past Billings in the current forecast, however.

The colder than normal temperatures for the Williston region are expected to persist through Wednesday, with lows ranging from the mid to low 30s. Temperatures will then gradually warm to average. By the following weekend, the temperature is expected to be around 60 degrees.

“It doesn’t have to be a season ender,” Jones said. “Things could change of course. But right now it doesn’t look like it.”

The cold snap is most likely to hurt warm-season vegetables like tomatoes and squash the most. Tomatoes with at least a slight blush will ripen indoors, so covering the vines with plastic may be worthwhile for some.

Regardless of any plastic or blankets, however, the cold snap means the garden’s days are numbered. Harvest time will soon be done for another year.

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