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Major winter storm possible Friday into Saturday in NW, central Minn.

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GRAND FORKS, N.D. – The first major winter storm of 2013 could hit North Dakota and Minnesota on Friday and Saturday, with the potential for snowfall of 6 inches or more in some northern areas, the National Weather Service says.

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Areas now forecast to be affected are the eastern third of North Dakota and northwestern into central Minnesota. The Willmar area is not included in the storm statement though freezing rain and light snow are in the forecast for Willmar and surrounding areas starting Thursday night.

Warmer weather and southerly winds are expected tonight and Thursday ahead of the potential storm Friday into early Saturday, according to a statement from the Weather Service office in Grand Forks, N.D.

The threat of freezing rain will grow Thursday night in west central Minnesota, and snow is expected to develop farther north in the Devils Lake basin late Thursday night and spread east on Friday.

The storm has the potential to dump 6 inches or more of snow in the Devils Lake basin and northern Red River Valley through early Saturday, with near-blizzard conditions possible Friday afternoon through Friday night, the Weather Service said.

Farther south, “significant” icing is possible Thursday night into Friday, likely impacting travel, forecasters said.

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