RAPID CITY, S.D. — A powerful winterlike storm moving through the Great Plains was closing schools and causing travel headaches in several states, authorities said Thursday.
Winter storm warnings and watches stretched from Wyoming and Montana through western Nebraska and into the Dakotas and Minnesota. Forecasters said the storm packs strong winds and double-digit snowfall totals, along with blizzardlike conditions through Friday.
The National Weather Service in Bismarck, North Dakota, said a “potentially historic October winter storm” was in the making.
Dozens of school districts canceled classes or started late in South Dakota and western Nebraska, including Chadron State College in Chadron, Nebraska.
Forecasters predicted 1 foot (0.3 meter) of snow or more for parts of the Dakotas through Friday and nearly a foot in Nebraska.
The weather service said 5 inches (12.7 centimeters) already had been dumped on Chadron, and 3.4 inches (8.6 centimeters) had accumulated in Scottsbluff. More was expected.
Blowing and drifting snow were making travel hazardous, and the low temperatures could pose a danger to people working outdoors and livestock, the service said. Wind gusts could approach 40 mph (64.4 kph) in some areas.
The storm left 32,000 customers without power in Washington state Wednesday.
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