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Published January 11 2013

UPDATED: No-travel advisory issued for portion of North Dakota

FARGO – A no-travel advisory for the northwest portion of the state was issued Friday afternoon, as the first snowstorm of 2013 continues to rumble across the region.

The North Dakota Department of Transportation issued a no-travel advisory for the northwest region of the state at 4 p.m. due to blowing snow, scattered areas of ice and near zero visibility, the DOT said in a release.

This includes the cities of Williston, Crosby, Bowbells, Watford City, New Town and Stanley.

Dozens of schools in eastern North Dakota and northwest and west-central Minnesota cut the school day short because of the snow, canceling classes and many afterschool activities. Over 180 closings were posted to www.inforum.com by mid-afternoon Friday.

Earlier in the day, a light rain was falling in Fargo-Moorhead, creating slick conditions on side streets, but main thoroughfares were still mostly clear as the temperature hovered at 35 degrees just before 8 a.m.

“I think once these temperatures do drop, it’s going to be like flipping a switch and things are going to change very quickly out here,” said Minnesota State Patrol Sgt. Jesse Grabow said.

The temperature in Grand Forks had already dropped to 21 degrees.

Grabow said icy conditions hadn’t developed yet on Interstate 94 near Barnesville, but six vehicles had already slid off Highway 108 near Dent, Minn., including a Minnesota Department of Transportation snowplow. He advised motorists to slow down, keep their headlights on and don’t use cruise control.

In North Dakota, a blizzard warning is in effect for the Grand Forks and Devils Lake areas from 6 p.m. today until noon Saturday. The National Weather Service said snow accumulations from 4 to 7 inches are expected along and north of a line from Grand Forks to Baudette, Minn., while 3 to 6 inches are possible from Lisbon, N.D., to Fargo to Bemidji, Minn.

North winds will increase from 30 to 35 mph with gusts up to 45 mph this evening and overnight, resulting in widespread blizzard conditions, the weather service said. Visibility will be reduced to a quarter-mile or less in blowing and drifting snow, making travel near impossible.

After an unusually warm week, the weekend will bring sub-zero temperatures. The weather service notes that wind chills on Saturday morning could be between 25 to 35 degrees below zero. Snow amounts will decrease in and around the southern valley, but high winds will continue to reduce visibility.