A winter storm warning is in effect from 6 a.m. Saturday to noon Sunday, Dec. 1, according to the National Weather Service in Grand Forks.
Residents along the Highway 2 corridor in eastern North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota should expect heavy snow and ice, and winds gusting up to 35 mph. Projected snowfall accumulation is 6 to 14 inches.
Travel will be difficult to impossible, according to the National Weather Service. Blowing snow will significantly reduce visibility. Those who must travel should plan accordingly and keep an extra flashlight, food and water in the vehicle in case of an emergency.
The storm system is the third major storm this week, which is bound to instigate another round of travel woes as millions of Americans return home from the Thanksgiving holiday this weekend.
The powerful storm has the potential to bring heavy snow to a sprawling region from the Intermountain West through the Plains all the way to the Great Lakes and New England. The storm, which has already prompted winter storm and blizzard warnings from Arizona to Wisconsin, will blast east over the next several days, setting the stage for the Northeast's first major snowstorm of the season.
Accompanying the snow are strong winds, likely to exceed 50 or 60 mph in some areas. Blizzard warnings are up in eastern Wyoming, western Nebraska north of Highway 2 and western South Dakota, including the Badlands, through Saturday night. The visibility may drop to a quarter mile at times as blowing snow brings near whiteout conditions. This is unlikely to affect Interstate 80, but could impact Highway 26 in Wyoming and Nebraska, as well as Intestate 90 through South Dakota.
Minneapolis will be right along the southern edge of where substantial snow is possible. Just a county or two north of Minneapolis, accumulations will reach warning levels, closing in on 6 inches or more. But in the Twin Cities, the current forecast calls for 3 to 5 inches. A winter storm watch is in effect.
Uncertainty lies within the temperatures: Minneapolis is predicted to be on the edge of the snow/mixed precipitation line with marginal temperatures, so any fluctuations could have a bearing on how much snow is realized.
In Wisconsin, most of the snow looks to fall north of Appleton and Green Bay. Milwaukee is anticipated to begin as mixed precipitation or sleet Saturday, quickly transitioning to a cold rain that will last off and on through Sunday night. Madison is expected to see a wintry mix late Friday turn to rain on Saturday before perhaps ending as snow on Sunday.
In Chicago, it's all rain. One wave of rain will make for a gray morning Saturday, but a steadier period of shower activity will come Saturday night into the early morning hours Sunday. There may also be another round of moderate rain during Sunday evening.
The Washington Post contributed to this report.