Much of North Dakota is under a winter storm watch. The National Weather Service said there's a potential for 5-8 inches of snow in Bemidji and Grand Forks through Friday, with lesser amounts north of U.S. Highway 2.
Beltrami County Assistant Emergency Manager Chris Muller said a shift in the storm track, as little as 50 miles, will greatly affect who sees the heaviest accumulations. To check the latest forecasts go to www.weather.gov.
"Due to the holiday, this storm has the potential to substantial cripple travelers," Muller said. "This storm system could dump as much, if not more snow than the one that hit the (southern) Midwest a couple weeks ago. Winds will not be nearly as strong, so blizzard conditions are not anticipated."
Karen Bedeau, Northwest District public affairs coordinator for Minnesota Department of Transportation in Bemidji, urged travelers to be especially careful out on the roads during holiday travel.
"Even if we only get a couple of inches of snow, it could be blowing," she said.
Bedeau reminded drivers to keep safe distances from other vehicles, keep focused on their driving and avoid distractions such as cell phones and talking to passengers or searching for Christmas carols on their radios.
People should drive with their headlights on, she said, not use cruise control and watch out for bridge decks and intersections that might be icy. Everyone should wear a seatbelt, she said, and allow extra time to reach a destination. If the weather is too bad, she said people should consider canceling travel plans.
The National Weather Service says a powerful storm system will take shape over the southern Great Plains today and Wednesday and track into western Iowa by Friday.
While the center of this system is well south of Grand Forks, there's enough moisture for snow to develop Wednesday night and Thursday and continue into Friday night.
The weather service said there's potential for counties along the International Border to see 3-6 inches of snow through early Saturday, 5-8 inches from Devils Lake through Grand Forks to Bemidji, 6-10 inches south of Highway 2, 8-12 inches south of Interstate 94 and a pocket of more than a foot around Watertown, S.D.
Southern Minnesota, including the Twin Cities, could see a foot of snow.