Blizzard Warning issued as cross-country storm brings snow, high winds to Plains, Midwest

More than a half-foot of snow has fallen, and winds have gusted over 80 mph

A powerful cross-country storm will continue to bring snow, high winds and blizzard conditions to the Northern Plains and upper Midwest on Friday while also spreading heavy rain and strong thunderstorms across the Northeast.

As of early Friday, nearly 7 inches of snow had fallen in parts of northeastern Minnesota. Winds have also gusted to 82 mph in portions of South Dakota, where 10 semis were blown over on Thursday.

Much colder air will follow in the wake of this storm across the central and eastern U.S. after unseasonably warm temperatures dominated for much of the past week.

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Snow impacts

Parts of the Northern Plains and upper Midwest are receiving their first significant snowfall of the season from this storm. Several inches of snow has already fallen across portions of this region, especially in northern and northeastern Minnesota.

The National Weather Service has issued a Blizzard Warning through midday Friday for northeastern South Dakota and adjacent portions of west-central Minnesota, where 50- to 55-mph wind gusts will combine with falling and blowing snow to significantly reduce visibility.

According to the NWS, a snowstorm must reach the following criteria to become an official blizzard: sustained winds or frequent gusts to at least 35 mph and considerable falling and/or blowing snow that frequently reduces visibility to one-quarter mile or less, both of which must persist for a period of three hours or longer.

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Winter Weather Advisories are also in effect into Friday afternoon from central and eastern North Dakota into eastern South Dakota, northern Iowa and western and central Minnesota.

The snow should gradually taper off in the eastern Dakotas through Friday morning, with lingering snow showers possible in Minnesota and northern Iowa into Friday afternoon. Rain could mix with snow on Friday over parts of Wisconsin, northern Illinois and western Michigan before ending Friday night.

Lake-effect snow and rain showers will then develop downwind of the Great Lakes this weekend with the colder air in place.

WHAT IS LAKE-EFFECT SNOW?

The highest storm totals are predicted across northeastern North Dakota and northern Minnesota, where some areas could pick up 6 to 12 inches of total snowfall.

Less than a half-foot of snow is forecast for other parts of the Northern Plains and upper Midwest.

Minneapolis/St. Paul is projected to see less than an inch, but it's still notable because this is the first snow of the season for the Twin Cities.

The warm side of this system will send a line of heavy rain and strong thunderstorms across the eastern U.S. from New England to the mid-Atlantic before the storm pushes off the Northeast coast Friday night.

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Wind impacts

High winds will accompany the snow and rain in the Plains and Midwest on Friday, which is why a Blizzard Warning has been hoisted for parts of the Northern Plains.

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The NWS has also issued High Wind Warnings and Wind Advisories from portions of the Dakotas and Nebraska into southwestern Minnesota and western and central Iowa. 

Winds could gust upwards of 55 to 60 mph over the High Wind Warning areas in South Dakota and Nebraska. Areas under Wind Advisories in the Northern Plains and upper Midwest are expected to gust between 50 and 55 mph.

In places where snow is falling, these high winds will lead to blowing and drifting snow and possible whiteout conditions, meaning visibility could be reduced to near zero at times. This is especially hazardous for motorists, so you're advised to use extreme caution if you must travel on Friday.

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT BLOWING, DRIFTING SNOW

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