Many North Dakotans are likely to wake up to a white weekend, though the chances are less in the Bismarck-Mandan area.
The first measurable snow of the season is expected overnight, according to the National Weather Service. Northern parts of the state are expected to see the brunt of it -- as much as half a foot along a diagonal line from Crosby in the northwest to Carrington in the southeast.
A couple of inches is expected from Williston to Washburn, with the exception of the New Town area, which could see 3-4 inches. Less than an inch is forecast for the Bismarck-Mandan area.
The system is sweeping from western Canada over the Northern Rockies and into the Northern Plains, with heavy snow expected in parts of Montana and Wyoming and a band of 3-6 inches from northeastern Montana into northern Minnesota, according to the National Weather Service and AccuWeather.
"Snow across the U.S. will begin Friday night across western Montana into northern Wyoming as cold air surges down the east slopes of the Canadian Rockies into the western High Plains," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Mike LeSeney said.
The snow is likely to make roads and sidewalks slick, according to forecasters. It's expected to end Saturday morning, but northwest winds gusting to 20 mph could blow it around.
The weather service has posted a winter weather advisory for northwest and north central North Dakota -- the Minot and Williston areas. The advisory does not extend as far south as Bismarck, though the agency has posted a hazardous weather outlook for the area.
The Bismarck area is on the "southern fringes" of the system, but "it may shift a little bit farther south," said Rick Krolak, a National Weather Service official in Bismarck.
Weekend high temperatures for Bismarck-Mandan and much of the rest of North Dakota aren't expected to get out of the 30s, with overnight lows dropping into the midteens. That means any snow that accumulates isn't likely to melt anytime soon.
"Regardless of where snow may fall, the unseasonable chill is certain to impact the Northern Rockies, Northern Plains and Upper Midwest for much of the upcoming week, especially during the first half of the week," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dan Pydynowski said.
More chances for snow are in the National Weather Service forecast for Bismarck-Mandan into late next week, though there isn't likely to be any accumulation.
"With highs Wednesday and Thursday in the 30s and 40s, it'll be mostly wet, or a rain-and-snow mix," Krolak said.
The wintry weather is an abrupt switch from unseasonably warm weather to start October. High temperatures in the region just a week ago were in the 70s. It's a La Nina year, when cooling of water in the central and eastern Pacific influences weather in the continental U.S. That typically means a later measurable snowfall for Bismarck, around Nov. 1, according to the weather service.
Reach Blake Nicholson at 701-250-8266 or email@example.com.
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