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Here it comes: Area to see first winter storm this weekend

A Bemidji State University student trudges through the snow near campus. ( Pioneer File Photo)

BEMIDJI—A winter storm is on its way to the Upper Midwest, though the heaviest snow could shift to southeast of Fargo and up toward Bemidji.

The National Weather Service issued a special weather statement Tuesday forecasting heavy snowfall and strong north winds that could come to the Red River Valley and north-central Minnesota as early as Thursday evening. Though the track and timing of the storm is uncertain,—it may not hit until Friday morning—the potential for snow is across most of North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota, and even into parts of Wyoming, Montana, Nebraska, Iowa and Wisconsin.

Early projections had the heaviest snow staying in a band stretching from south central South Dakota into central and east North Dakota, as well as northwest Minnesota and into southern parts of Manitoba and Ontario. But weather models produced Tuesday show that band shifting to southeast of Fargo and into Minnesota's lakes country, said Brad Hopkins, a meteorologist with the weather service's Grand Forks office.

"It's going to be a fairly broad, low pressure system," he said, adding the band could stretch from South Dakota up to Bemidji.

The weather service said snow in the Bemidji area on Friday could be heavy at times; Accuweather's website said the Bemidji area may see anywhere between 3-6 inches of snow Friday and the storm total in some areas could reach 10 inches.

Models could shift the area the band covers, Hopkins said, and how much snow the Midwest could see depends on the track and strength of the storm. However, the system has the potential to make travel difficult by the end of the week, according to the weather service.

Updates on the storm's track are expected Tuesday afternoon.

The storm isn't out of the ordinary for this time of year, Hopkins said. The first measurable snowstorm typically hits North Dakota and Minnesota in mid-November. While other parts of North Dakota saw their first snow in early October, this storm would bring snowfall to Grand Forks for the first time this season.

"We've been spoiled with the warmer weather for so long," Hopkins said. "The first storm of the season always generates a lot of interest because it is the first storm."

After the snow departs, expect a drop in temperatures, as well. The warm temperatures in Bemidji for the weekend are 29 on Saturday and 28 on Sunday, the weather service said.

Forum News Service contributed to this report.

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