A foot or more?

The National Weather Service in Grand Forks is predicting a major winter storm for parts of eastern North Dakota and western Minnesota beginning late today and stretching into Wednesday.

A foot or more of snow is possible across the southern Red River Valley, tapering to six inches farther north along the Highway 2 corridor. Meteorologist Todd Hamilton of the National Weather Service in Bismarck said that Valley City could be in the 9 to 12 inch range for precipitation.

“A low pressure system is developing over the central plains, and it is a strong system pulling in a lot of moisture,” Hamilton said Tuesday morning.

“Some of the heaviest snowfall will fall in the northeast corner of South Dakota and up into western Minnesota.

“We’re not in the area of heaviest snowfall, but we’re looking at over a foot in some locations.”

Unless there is a shift in the predicted storm track, the storm could be the strongest so far this winter, according to the NWS.

This morning, snow was already pushing into the southwest part of the state, and Hamilton said, “By late afternoon or early evening is when we’ll see the snow begin in our region.

“The heavy snow and winds won’t pick up until this evening, about 10 p.m., and continue through Wednesday morning.”

Strong southeast winds are expected ahead of the storm, becoming northerly by Wednesday as the system passes to the east.

Gusts up to 35 miles per hour, and blowing and drifting snow could result in near zero visibility on roads and in open country.

The storm system originated in the central Great Basin and central and southern Rockies on Monday, but will move northeast from the Rockies into the Plains beginning today.

“It may not be the blizzard of the century,” said Hamilton, “but we’ve had a mild winter, so I think people need to take caution and if you don’t have to travel, don’t. We tend to forget how bad it can be out there.”