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Winter storm closes in on area

A winter storm watch is in effect from noon today through noon Thursday that includes much of North Dakota and west-central Minnesota, but that watch barely excludes Grand Forks and Polk counties.

A winter storm watch is in effect from noon today through noon Thursday that includes much of North Dakota and west-central Minnesota, but that watch barely excludes Grand Forks and Polk counties.

The National Weather Service's Grand Forks office also issued a heavy snow warning for northwestern and central North Dakota through tonight.

The weather service cautioned the storm's route still could shift.

As much as four inches of snow could fall in the Grand Forks area, said forecast assistant Chauncy Schultz, but the heaviest snowfalls will be to the west and southwest along a line running from Minot to Jamestown, N.D., and Fargo.

Snowfall could rise as high as eight inches in those areas, Schultz said.

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Pembina, Walsh and Cavalier Counties, all in North Dakota, also fall out of the winter storm watch area so far, as do virtually all the northwestern Minnesota counties east and north of Polk County.

Wind speeds also will increase by tonight, with gusts approaching 30 mph, likely making travel difficult. A rush of cold arctic air will come along, too, sending wind chills into the 25-below to 45-below territory.

Thursday's high in Grand Forks could be only 10 below zero, with a nighttime low plummeting to about 28 below zero, the weather service says. Expect a low tonight of around 10 below zero.

Today's high temperature might reach 1 degree, with a low that night around 17 below. After that, don't look for above-zero temperatures until Saturday, when the forecast high is 22 degrees.

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