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)
A storm now blasting the West with rain, mountain snow, and gusty winds may become a potent blizzard, threatening to cripple portions of the central and northern Plains and the Upper Midwest by mid- to-late-week.
While the storm will make it a white Christmas for millions of people, areas in the heart of the storm could have nearly impossible travel at times leading up to Christmas.
The storm will track from the Northwest into the Four Corners Region through Tuesday, dumping heavy snow over the southern Rockies. The Southwest Regional News story has more details on the snowfall for the Intermountain West and the Rockies that will have skiers excited for the holidays.
By late Wednesday or Wednesday night, the storm and its heavy snow will shift into the Plains and begin really ramping up. As the storm intensifies, the wind will increase, potentially bringing an all-out blizzard.
The storm will then move northward through Thursday and into Friday, cutting across the Upper Midwest or the Great Lakes. This means the eastern Plains and Upper Midwest may be dealt the biggest blow.
Cities that could get hit by the core of the snow and wind include: Wichita, Kansas City, Des Moines, Omaha, and perhaps Minneapolis.
Whiteout conditions, several inches of snow, significant blowing and drifting could occur in the hardest hit areas. Wind gusts over 40 mph could also create brutally cold AccuWeather.com RealFeel temperatures.
Interstates that may be impacted by the blizzard include: 29, 35, 70, 80, 90, 94. If the storm pans out as computer models are projecting, there will also be many cancellations at major airports.
Meanwhile, a front-running band of snow will begin to impact the northern Plains and the Midwest today into tonight. A small corridor of up to three to six inches of snow could create headaches for people from the Dakotas through Iowa.
On the southern and warmer edge of the storm, rain and storms will return to the flood-weary Gulf coast and much of the interior South. The South Regional News story has more on the threatening weather situation that may unfold in New Orleans and other areas.
AccuWeather.com Meteorologists will continue to monitor the storm and its track. The track will determine the difference between rain or accumulating snow at a given location.