BEMIDJI -- It looks like winter is finally on its way.

The National Weather Service issued a winter storm watch on Wednesday afternoon for portions of north-central and northwest Minnesota and northeast North Dakota. The advisory will remain in effect from Thursday afternoon through Friday morning. Heavy snow is expected with a total accumulation of 3 to 9 inches possible. Winds could gust as high as 50 mph.

According to the NWS, widespread rain will move into the area Wednesday, with a mix of rain and snow developing along the Canadian border. Rain will change over to snow Wednesday night into Thursday morning with a brief period of quiet weather or very light rain or snow heading into Thursday morning.

"Thursday will see an area of snow spread south through the afternoon as winds turn north to northwest and temperatures fall. Snow and gusty north winds of 25 to 40 mph are expected Thursday night before the snow ends Friday morning," the NWS said.

In Bemidji, temperatures will hover around 26 on Thursday night, with a 90% change of precipitation. The high for Friday is 33 with temps dipping down to 20 degrees by Friday evening.

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Uncertainties remain in regards to how much precipitation in the form of snow will drop through the area, however, it does appear the highest chance for more than 4 inches of snow is further north along the Canadian border.

Initially, the snow may melt, but Thursday afternoon into Friday morning will see cold enough temperatures so that travel may become slick and hazardous.

Travel could be very difficult at times with areas of blowing snow that could significantly reduce visibility. The hazardous conditions could impact the Thursday evening and Friday morning commute.

Precautionary preparedness actions include slowing down and using caution while traveling. For the latest road conditions, visit 511mn.org or call 511.