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2-9 inches of snow expected in western North Dakota; high winds, rain likely in Bismarck

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The first wintry blast of the season is bearing down on western North Dakota, with some areas possibly in store for more than 9 inches of heavy, wet snow.

The snow should miss the Bismarck-Mandan area, but the region will see strong winds and rain from the storm system, according to the National Weather Service.

The agency posted a winter storm warning for the southwestern North Dakota counties of Bowman, Slope and Golden Valley from 6 p.m. Mountain time Tuesday to 9 p.m. Wednesday. From 5-9 inches of snow is expected, with locally larger amounts possible in higher areas along the Montana border. Winds could gust up to 45 mph.

The western and northwestern counties of Billings, McKenzie, Williams and Divide were under a winter weather advisory -- a level below a warning -- from 7 p.m. Central time Tuesday to 10 p.m. Wednesday. The weather service said gusty winds and 2-4 inches of snow were expected.

Much of the rest of the western half of North Dakota was under a wind advisory. 

"A very dynamic storm system will produce significant snow accumulations over far southwest North Dakota and adjacent portions of southeast Montana and northwest South Dakota," the weather service said, adding that "Gusty winds will blow around unsecured objects."

The conditions also are likely to impact the Wednesday morning commute in snowy areas, and the weather service urged motorists to slow down and be ready for reduced visibility and slippery roads.

"The first snow of the year can often cause major problems on the road as people adjust to the poor driving conditions," the agency said.

The storm system is pushing from the West Coast over the Rockies and into the Plains, and resulting in winter storm warnings in parts of Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah and Idaho, according to AccuWeather.

"Some parts of Montana had already reported more than a foot of snow as of late Monday night, with as much as 20 inches falling near the community of Pony in the southwestern part of the state," AccuWeather Meteorologist Brandon Buckingham said.

The storm system is expected to also shepherd in much cooler weather than the record-breaking heat the western and central regions have experienced the past couple of weeks.

Overnight lows Thursday and Friday in the west are expected to drop into the mid-to-upper 20s, according to the state forecast. That could result in a killing frost -- 28 degrees or below. Lows for the Bismarck-Mandan area are expected to stay above 30 degrees, however, and the weekend forecast is for sunny skies with highs in the upper 50s and lower 60s.

Reach Blake Nicholson at 701-250-8266 or blake.nicholson@bismarcktribune.com.

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