Ground blizzard possible in Fargo-Moorhead area on Wednesday, Thursday; wind chill could hit -40

Fargo resident Dean Estenson navigates his way home during a winter storm on Thursday, Dec. 27, 2018. “I’m frozen to the bone,” said Estenson, who had just picked up food supplies and Mountain Dew at Walmart on 13th Avenue South. “I’m not going anywhere (else).” A blizzard warning is in place for the Fargo-Moorhead area until early Friday morning, according to the National Weather Service. Ann Arbor Miller / The Forum

FARGO — The National Weather Service is warning much of North Dakota and parts of western Minnesota that an incoming arctic blast has the potential to create a ground blizzard as well as dangerous wind chills Wednesday afternoon into Thursday morning.

Strong winds of up to 45 mph are forecast to spread south Wednesday afternoon, Jan. 23, blowing snow around and reducing visibility. This is expected to create whiteout conditions in rural areas.

“The winds and blowing snow will come roaring down through the Red River Valley, starting Wednesday evening,” said Jennifer Ritterling with the weather service in Grand Forks. “The worst conditions look to be Wednesday evening into Wednesday night.”

Visibility is anticipated to gradually improve Thursday as wind speeds decline. But the strong winds and dropping temperatures will create treacherous wind chills of minus 25 to minus 40 Wednesday night through Friday morning.

The cold front will move into the Bismarck area early to mid-Wednesday afternoon before it continues east, sparing much of the northwestern corner of North Dakota, said Janine Vining, meteorologist with the weather service in Bismarck.

Because of the possible blizzard conditions, the weather service has issued a winter storm watch. For more information, visit weather.gov/fgf

State transportation officials issued a travel alert Tuesday morning, Jan. 22, for northeastern North Dakota because of snow creating slippery road conditions. The alert includes the cities of Grand Forks, Drayton, Pembina, Cavalier and surrounding areas.

A travel alert means motorists can still travel in these areas but should be aware of rapidly changing conditions.