Grand Forks is located along the U.S. 2 east-west highway corridor at the Minnesota border. It is the home of the University of North Dakota, the state’s oldest and largest institute of higher learning. The downtown area is typically Midwestern with small shops and an assortment of mostly brick commercial buildings. Primary industries are related to the university or agriculture—the Red River Valley location contains some of the most fertile land in the world—and the Grand Forks Air Force Base adds to the economy.
There are some new high tech and research organizations mainly connected with the university. There are a few college-town amenities lying mostly west of town near the campus, but the closest big city is across the border in Winnipeg. Because of its northern Great Plains location and lack of moderating land features, Grand Forks has 50+ days below zero.
Grand Forks and its sister city East Grand Forks, Minnesota, straddle the northward-flowing Red River, which divides North Dakota and Minnesota. The Red River Valley is flat and shallow and subject to frequent spring flooding. The Red River Valley is windswept year-round, with frequent arctic outbreaks common in the winter months. Snow covers the ground from mid-December through late March, yet winters are highly variable. November through February is cloudy 75% of the time. Average winter snowfall is 40 inches.
Summer months are typically warm and humid with frequent thunderstorms. Most precipitation occurs in the late spring through mid-summer thunderstorm season. Annual temperature variations are dramatic, with record lows below –40 degrees and record highs of 110 degrees. First freeze is late September, last is early May