Winter is still several weeks away, but Mother Nature has a preview in store for the northern Plains.
Just days after rising into the 50s and 60s, snowflakes will fly across parts of North Dakota, northern Minnesota and the southern Canadian Prairie today and tonight.
There will even be enough snow to whiten the ground in many areas for a time.
For most seasoned residents, this will be nothing more than a nuisance snow typical of a weak, fast-moving "clipper system," though enough of the white stuff could fall to cause slick travel for a time.
A general swath of 1 to 2 inches is expected by early tonight across the northern and eastern part of North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota.
A few locales in North Dakota could see totals reach 3 or 4 inches should the storm's full potential be realized.
Since temperatures will only be within a few degrees of freezing, snow could stick on road surfaces for a time, especially toward the beginning and end of the day, impacting some prime commute hours.
In addition, a potentially dangerous mix of sleet and freezing rain could accompany the snow across a narrow part of central North Dakota for a time.
Any amount of ice accretion can make for very hazardous driving conditions. Fortunately, if any ice does accumulate, it should melt in a rather short amount of time as temperatures increase.
This nuisance event will provide a nice primer to re-accustom area travelers to winter driving, a skill which will not go out of fashion until at least April in this part of the country.
Be sure to drive slowly in snow, especially heavy snow when visibilities can be reduced. Because of this, allow more space than normal between you and the vehicle in front of you.
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