A Highway Patrol officer instructs a vehicle to turn around as it is leaving city limits, Friday, Nov. 7, 2008, in Devils Lake, N.D. In northeastern North Dakota, the Nodak Rural Electric Cooperative said thousands of rural customers in parts of Grand Forks, Griggs, Ramsey, Steele and Walsh counties were without power early Friday. (AP Photo/Devils Lake Journal, Sue Kraft Fischer)
The West Regional News story reports that around a storm system tracking through the northern Plains, bitterly cold air, strong winds and snow is combining to create a potentially life-threatening blizzard from Montana to the Dakotas.
By this afternoon, some locations across Montana had already picked up 8 inches of snow.
According to the Winter Weather Center, widespread additional amounts of 3 to 6 inches are expected across eastern Montana, Wyoming and the Dakotas through Sunday, while parts of the eastern Dakotas and Minnesota will receive more than a foot.
Winds will continue whipping around the storm at greater than 40 mph with even higher gusts. This will continue to cause blowing and drifting of the heavy falling snow, bringing visibilities near zero at times. These dangerous conditions will last three hours Related News
The Severe Weather Center lists the winter storm-related watches, warnings and advisories in effect across the northern Plains and the West.
Temperatures will plummet 20 to 40 degrees tonight into Sunday over the same areas impacted by the blizzard. This dangerous subzero cold will last through the beginning of the week, while gusty winds through Sunday bring AccuWeather RealFeel ® temperatures as low as -50 degrees.
Motorists and anyone venturing outdoors for even short periods of time will face life-threatening conditions from the snow and blowing snow leading to near-zero visibility and dangerously cold wind chills.
Blizzard conditions developed across central Montana Friday night, blasting places like Great Falls with snow and wind gusts past 60 mph, creating near zero visibility. There were reports of stranded motorists in Shelby, Mont., seeking shelter in a local church.
One report out of an area near Fairfield, Mont., described the blizzard as the "worst storm seen in decades." The report stated winds were so strong Friday night that a person could barely stand. The winds downed branches, damaged a roof and caused power outages 7 miles west of Fairfield.
By midday Saturday, 3 to 8 inches of snow had fallen in north-central Montana with snow drifts building up to 2 to 4 feet. Visibilities were reported to have remained under a quarter mile for almost 12 hours near Simms, Mont., through the early afternoon.
While blizzard conditions continue spreading across the northern Plains, snow will fall from the Pacific Northwest through the Intermountain West through the rest of the weekend. Snow levels in the Northwest dropped below 500 feet today, so places that rarely have snow are receiving some this weekend.
While several inches of snow can accumulate across areas from Seattle to Portland by Monday, snow amounts will be highly variable. Upwards of 3 to 6 inches are expected north and east of the cities in the foothills with more than a foot over the high peaks in the Cascades.
While the West braces for powerful winter weather, New Englanders are dealing with the aftermath of the potent storm that slammed up the East Coast Thursday into Friday.
The East Regional News story reports rain, snow and ice across the Northeast wound down on Friday as the storm sped into Atlantic Canada, leaving behind a trail of destruction from Louisiana to Maine.
While the storm on Thursday brought rare snow to New Orleans and sparked damaging thunderstorms and at least one tornado across the Deep South, it is New England that has been hardest hit.
According to Bloomberg.com, the ice storm that moved from eastern New York to Maine left more than a million customers without power. The governors of Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire declared states of emergency.
The weather in New England will be dry but cold tonight as the area cleans up from the storm. Milder air will work its way into the area Sunday into the beginning of next week.