High winds are expected to whip up a ground blizzard in eastern North Dakota and northwest Minnesota Wednesday, making travel difficult and ushering in frigid temperatures.

The National Weather Service in Grand Forks is issuing a winter storm watch for most of the Red River Valley from Wednesday afternoon through Thursday morning as 45 mph wind gusts are expected to produce blizzard conditions with near-zero visibility.

WDAY logo
listen live
watch live

“Areas of blowing snow could significantly reduce visibility. The hazardous conditions could impact Wednesday evening travelers and possibly Thursday morning commute,” the weather service said in its warning. “The dangerously cold wind chills as low as 35 below could cause frostbite on exposed skin in as little as 10 minutes.”

A factor in the storm is several inches of snow that fell on the region from Monday to Tuesday morning. Grand Forks received 5.4 inches overnight, and accumulations of 6-8 inches were reported in the areas of Lakota, N.D., and Bemidji.

Expected high winds mixed with the new snow could lead to a ground blizzard, the weather service said. Rural areas are expected to see whiteout conditions, though visibility will improve as winds weaken throughout Thursday afternoon.

The North Dakota Department of Transportation warned snow-covered roads may be slippery in Grand Forks, Drayton, Pembina, Cavalier and surrounding areas of northeastern North Dakota.

Most roads in northwestern Minnesota are marked as partially covered with snow, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

Blizzard conditions are predicted to begin near Langdon, N.D., between 2 and 4 p.m. and continue southeast, hitting the Grand Forks area between 5 and 7 p.m., the report said.

The ground blizzard is predicted to be similar to the last blizzard, Blizzard Bob, which occurred on New Year’s Eve.