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Brandi Jewett, Forum Communications, Published October 03 2012

Wintry conditions expected

GRAND FORKS – Winter is expected to make an early appearance this year as forecasts call for several inches of snow in parts of the region, perhaps even a foot in northern Minnesota.

The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning Wednesday for many counties on the north end of the Red River Valley, effective until 1 a.m. Friday. As of Wednesday evening, Cass and Clay counties were under a winter weather advisory.

WDAY-TV meteorologist John Wheeler was expecting overnight rain in the Fargo-Moorhead area to gradually turn to snow this morning, with accumulation of 1 to 5 inches possible. The totals may hinge on the temperatures, which will affect how much snow sticks around, he said.

Wheeler’s forecast called for 4 to 10 inches across much of northeast North Dakota and northwest Minnesota, and 8 to 16 inches in some portions of northern Minnesota, such as Thief River Falls.

Winds of 20 to 30 mph, with gusts reaching 40 mph, are expected to accompany the snow, said Jeff Makowski, a meteorologist with the weather service’s Grand Forks Office.

Motorists should use caution as blowing snow and freezing rain will make driving conditions hazardous, Makowski said.

Damage to power lines and trees also is a possibility, as heavy wet snow clinging to the structures may cause branches to snap and power lines to break.

Snowfall is expected to continue through this afternoon into the evening. Lingering snowfall is possible tonight.

Warm ground temperatures will start melting the snow, but Makowski said residents can expect it to stick around for a couple of days.

“This is the time of year when we see pretty drastic changes in temperatures,” he said. “But we’re really going to starting cooling off now.”

It won’t be too long until the early dose of snow melts off. Wheeler said the highs should be back in the 50s by Monday.

Brandi Jewett writes for the Grand Forks Herald.

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