FARGO — Eastern North Dakota and northwest Minnesota were blanketed with snow as a winter storm began making its way across the region Saturday, Dec. 28.
By noon Saturday, 4 inches had fallen in areas near Forman, N.D., and Pelican Rapids, Minn., and 2 inches fell in the Fargo-Moorhead area.
While the snow accumulated quickly Saturday, the storm was expected to worsen Sunday and continue into Monday.
WDAY meteorologist Andrew Whitmyer said areas hit by the heaviest bands of snow Saturday night into Sunday morning could see over an inch of snow per hour.
The area forecast to see the most snowfall during the storm stretched from south of Aberdeen, S.D, to the Fargo-Moorhead area and across northern Minnesota. Those areas could see 10 to 16 inches of snow accumulation, Whitmyer said.
Blizzard conditions were expected Sunday, with gusts of wind above 40 mph in the Fargo and Grand Forks areas and west into the Devils Lake Basin creating "near-impossible travel," he said. Gusts in northwest Minnesota were expected to reach 30 mph.
Travel could get "very, very difficult" across the Red River Valley, WDAY meteorologist Jared Piepenberg echoed. He said he "wouldn't be surprised" if some parts of North Dakota saw wind gusts above 50 mph.
The National Weather Service in Grand Forks said the storm could bring ice accumulation and sporadic power outages. Ice was most likely in areas receiving less snow near Wahpeton, N.D., and Fergus Falls, Minn., where pockets of warm air caused a wintry mix and sleet Saturday.
No travel was advised in parts of southeastern North Dakota around 5 p.m. Saturday as road conditions deteriorated and blowing snow caused limited visibility, according to the North Dakota Department of Transportation and North Dakota Highway Patrol.
Icy roads were an issue in the southern half of Minnesota Saturday, conditions which left two people dead in separate crashes near Lino Lakes and St. Cloud in the early morning hours. No travel was advised in the Twin Cities after more than 300 crashes happened across the state between 5 and 10 a.m. on the slick roads, according to the Minnesota State Patrol.
"Minnesotans know a thing or two about ice rinks and that might be the best description of what drivers in the Twin Cities are encountering this morning," the state patrol said in a tweet.
Minnesotans know a thing or two about ice rinks and that might be the best description of what drivers in the Twin Cities are encountering this morning. Still plenty of crashes and vehicles off the road out there, according to the @MnDOT 511 map. pic.twitter.com/E4tQGgt03X
Minnesotans know a thing or two about ice rinks and that might be the best description of what drivers in the Twin Cities are encountering this morning. Still plenty of crashes and vehicles off the road out there, according to the @MnDOT 511 map. pic.twitter.com/E4tQGgt03X— MN State Patrol (@MnDPS_MSP) December 28, 2019
The roads reopened shortly after noon Saturday, but the state patrol advised caution and encouraged people to stay off the roads if possible.
Roads remained open in the northern part of the state Saturday evening, but that was expected to change Sunday.
"White-out conditions are a guarantee for parts of the area," Whitmyer said. Travelers should anticipate highway closures across the region Sunday.
The National Weather Service advised motorists to be prepared with winter survival kits if travel is absolutely necessary.
"Winds will still be pretty blustery, but snow will be coming to an end" Monday morning, Piepenberg said.
Whitmyer said winter storm conditions are expected to continue until at least Monday afternoon. Road conditions may be poor for the Monday morning commute, and likely won't improve until that evening.