FARGO — A winter storm warning was set to go into effect early Saturday, Nov. 30, and last through noon Sunday for eastern North Dakota and northwest Minnesota as heavy snowfall and winds were expected to hit the region.

That's according to the National Weather Service, which said light snow and a thin layer of ice were possible starting Friday evening, with heavy snow expected to spread into southeast North Dakota and areas of west-central Minnesota later Friday and into Saturday.

The Weather Service said heavy snow is expected throughout the day Saturday and Saturday night, with accumulations of 12-18 inches possible in the region by noon Sunday.

Winds could gust to 40 mph in spots and areas of snow and blowing snow will significantly reduce visibility, with travel expected to be very difficult to impossible Saturday, according to the Weather Service.

John Wheeler, chief meteorologist for WDAY-TV, said Friday he expects the weather system heading for the Fargo-Moorhead area to be a basic winter storm, with "lots of snow, some wind, some blowing and drifting; but this will not become a blizzard in our area."

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Wheeler said he doesn't expect visibility during the storm to reach zero, and while snow accumulations will likely be heavy — he is forecasting 8-12 inches for Fargo-Moorhead — it won't be the kind of wet snow that brings down branches or causes power outages the way a recent October storm did.

He said snow totals above 12 inches were possible for areas south and west of the Fargo-Moorhead area in southeast North Dakota.

"Light snow will begin in Fargo around midnight (Friday)," Wheeler said, adding he expected 1-3 inches of snow in the Fargo-Moorhead area by early Saturday, with the heaviest snowfall occurring Saturday into Saturday night.

"Weather will improve quickly Sunday, but the plows will need time to clear the roads," Wheeler said.

Hazardous driving conditions in the northwest corner of North Dakota early Friday prompted the North Dakota Department of Transportation and North Dakota Highway Patrol to issue a travel alert for that part of the state.

Cities included in the alert were: Williston, Watford City, Crosby, Minot, Mohall and surrounding areas.

A travel alert means motorists can still travel in the areas, but should be aware that conditions can rapidly deteriorate. Motorists should reduce speeds and drive according to the current conditions.

Drivers are reminded to check road conditions before venturing out. Information is available by calling 511 from any phone or visit the Travel Information Map at www.dot.nd.gov.