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Sunny conditions and high temperatures in the mid-70s will give way to an expected winter storm that could drop as much as 10 inches of snow on western and central North Dakota.

The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm watch for much of the western two-thirds of North Dakota from Wednesday evening into Friday morning.

Total snow accumulations from 6-13 inches are expected in many areas, with scattered higher amounts likely. Winds are expected to gust up to 45 mph.

Bismarck-Mandan is in the area that the weather service said has the greatest potential for higher snow amounts.

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The system originated off the Pacific coast and will move through the Pacific Northwest and across the Rockies before hitting the Upper Midwest, according to Nathan Heinert, a weather service meteorologist in Bismarck. A similar system hit eastern North Dakota about the same time last year, causing widespread power outages, he said.

Another strong storm is expected to develop over the Northern Plains on Friday and Saturday, with significant snow and strong winds possible over central and eastern North Dakota -- perhaps as much as another foot of snow. There is the potential for blizzard conditions, though much uncertainty about the storm remains, the weather service said.

High temperatures Thursday through Saturday are expected to be only in the 20s and 30s, according to the weather service forecast.

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