GRAND FORKS, N.D. (AP) — A combination of heavy snowfall and very strong winds is expected to create blizzard conditions in parts of the Dakotas and northwest Minnesota.
The National Weather Service expects the snow to begin late Sunday and continue into Monday evening. The snowfall will become especially heavy late Monday morning and into the afternoon hours, with 1 to 2 inches per hour possible.
The heaviest snow is expected across eastern North Dakota, through the northern and central Red River Valley, and into northwest Minnesota. Most areas can expect 10-20 inches of snow, meteorologist Tom Grafenauer said.
Thirty to 40 mph winds with gusts to over 50 mph combined with heavy snowfall will reduce visibilities to less than a quarter mile.
Grafenauer said the storm could be life-threatening to drivers who get stranded.
North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring and Dr. Susan Keller, the state veterinarian, said livestock producers should make every effort to gather their animals into sheltered areas with adequate feed and water.
"This is a particularly difficult time for producers with calving well underway," Keller said. "Making sure these animals — especially the calves — are sheltered is an absolute priority."
In South Dakota, the weather service said six to 12 inches of heavy, wet snow was expected in parts of the western plains, with higher amounts in the Black Hills. Officials warned that strong winds may cause blowing and drifting snow at times.
"Blizzard conditions will make travel extremely difficult, if not impossible, throughout much of South Dakota Sunday night and throughout the day on Monday," said Darin Bergquist, secretary of the South Dakota Department of Transportation. "Conditions may deteriorate rapidly as the storm moves across the state and people should make plans to stay put or extend their stay on Monday until conditions improve."