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Published November 24 2010

Snow and stuffing: Blizzard conditions to roll into F-M for Thanksgiving

Blizzard conditions are possible tonight through Thursday afternoon, the National Weather Service said Tuesday in revising its forecast for the Thanksgiving storm.

While noting that there “still remains a good deal of uncertainty” about the storm, the weather service issued a blizzard watch for late tonight through Thursday afternoon.

The storm system was over the Northern Rockies Tuesday afternoon and was moving into the Northern Plains Tuesday night and this morning.

A winter storm watch was canceled for today, but a winter weather advisory for snow remains in effect from 6 a.m. to midnight.

The snow is expected to start falling mid-morning or early afternoon today in the Red River Valley, said Mark Ewens, data manager at the weather service office in Grand Forks.

The forecast calls for total snowfall of 2 inches in areas along the South Dakota border, 3 to 4 inches in Fargo, 3 to 6 inches in the area from Grand Forks to Bemidji, Minn., and 6 to 8 inches along the international border.

The snowfall might cease for a time tonight as low pressure builds over the Red River Valley, but winds will increase as the low moves northeast, causing possible blizzard conditions late tonight into Thanksgiving Day, the weather service said.

Winds today are predicted to be southeast at 10 to 15 mph, which is strong enough to cause some ground drifting, Ewens said. Wind speeds will increase to 20 to 35 mph Thursday with gusts of 35 to 40 mph possible, he said.

“The concern is if we’re going to realize the wind potential, and if we do, travel’s just going to be a bear, especially with all this powder,” NWS meteorologist Jim Kaiser said.

Concordia College in Moorhead and University of Mary campuses in Fargo and Bismarck canceled classes today because of the storm, saying the decision would allow students to travel home for Thanksgiving. Concordia also canceled its Symphonia Concert on Tuesday night.

The North Dakota Highway Patrol advised drivers to slow down, allow for more distance between vehicles, wear seat belts and call 511 to check road conditions before traveling.

The patrol’s southeast region, which covers 15 counties, had responded to 30 property damage crashes, two injury crashes, 40 assists and 13 other calls for service during the past 24 hours, according to the news release issued Tuesday afternoon.

Moorhead police responded to 23 reported crashes from Monday morning to Tuesday morning, and many others likely went unreported, Lt. Tory Jacobson said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528