Northern North Dakota braces for heavy snow and bitter cold after a balmy New Year's holiday



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BISMARCK, North Dakota — North Dakota residents enjoyed a balmy New Year's holiday, but the pleasant weather is coming to a quick end.

The National Weather Service issued winter storm warnings and advisories for the northern and east-central parts of the state from Friday afternoon into Saturday morning, with some areas possibly seeing up to 10 inches of snow and winds gusting up to 50 mph.

"There will be near-blizzard conditions where the heaviest snow falls ... likely along the international border in northeastern North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota," weather service meteorologist Tom Grafenauer in Grand Forks said. "If winds end up being a little stronger, those blizzard conditions could be more widespread."

Icy arctic air was to flow into the Upper Midwest on the heels of the storm, with Saturday's highs in northern North Dakota reaching minus 10 degrees and wind chills as low as minus 50.

The weather was both good and bad for the Bottineau Winter Park ski area in the Turtle Mountains of north-central North Dakota.

"We have a really excellent base of man-made snow but we have no natural snow on top of it," General Manager Brad Knudson said. "We like to call it frosting on the cake.

"I'll take 10 inches," he said. "Maybe the phone won't ring so much wondering if we have any snow at all."

The bitter cold won't be so welcome, though, Knudson said. The ski park had about 600 visitors on Thursday, when high temperatures around the state were in the 20s and 30s. Knudson expects only about 200 visitors Saturday as the arctic air hits the region.

"Most skiers come dressed for the cold (but) we will see a substantial drop," he said.

Forecasters said the extreme cold will stick around into next week.


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