Winter storm watch issued in northwest Minnesota as powerful system nears

The first winter storm watch of the season is here.
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snow, snowblower

If you live in the Twin Cities, prepare for a nosedive in temperatures along with rain, wind and possibly some snowflakes as a powerful storm system chugs through the region later this week. 

If you live in western Minnesota, prepare for the possibility of accumulating snow. The National Weather Service (NWS) has already issued a winter storm watch for northwest Minnesota, including the cities of Detroit Lakes, Moorhead, Fergus Falls, Thief River Falls, Bemidji and Warroad. 

The watch is in effect from Thursday through Saturday. 

Counties shaded in blue are in a winter storm watch. 

Counties shaded in blue are in a winter storm watch. 

Here's what the weather service includes in the watch description:

* WHAT...Snow and the potential for light freezing rain. Total snow accumulations remain uncertain, however, significant travel impacts are possible.

* WHERE...Portions of central, north central, northwest and west central Minnesota.

* WHEN...From Thursday afternoon through Saturday afternoon.

* IMPACTS...Travel could be very difficult. Areas of blowing snow could significantly reduce visibility.

That's for the Minnesota portion of the winter storm watch. Just across the border in eastern North Dakota the NWS says "initial snow accumulations of 5 to 10 inches" are possible with "additional significant accumulations Friday and Saturday." 

"There will be a very tight zone with transition from rain to snow. This will set up near Hallock, Grand Forks and Valley City," says the NWS. Therefore expect large snowfall differences, especially in Grand Forks county with less snow in the city and more snow west of the Air Base."

Areas further south and east have lower chances for accumulating snow, and in the Twin Cities the system is expected to bring mostly rain and wind, although "scattered snow showers are likely as far east as Wisconsin by Friday night," says the NWS in the Twin Cities.

Here's more detail about the initial wave of snow late Wednesday through Thursday. 

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Here's round two's forecast from the NWS in Grand Forks. 

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The storm will be accompanied by strong winds and rapidly falling temperatures. 

We'll have more detail on the Weather MN blog each day as the storm approaches. 

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