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More than a foot of snow could halt Christmas travel

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FARGO - Snow accumulation of 16 to 20 inches for the Detroit Lakes area from late today to Friday night is now forecast by the National Weather Service in Grand Forks, N.D.

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The service expects dangerous travel conditions over the holidays.

"What we're seeing right now is that the storm is going to be a little stronger than we first thought, and the track will be farther to the west," said Al Voelker, a forecaster at the service.

The snowfall will likely pick up Thursday, but travel could be especially precarious on Friday, when projected winds of 20 to 30 mph out of the north could lead to blowing and drifting snow.

"Travel is going to be hazardous, and it's going to be worse as you go to the south and east," Voelker said.

The weather service made its most recent forecast after it became apparent a storm system descending from Canada might join forces with a system advancing toward the area from the southeast.

"This is going to be a big storm, not only for us but also for the entire central plains," Voelker said.

Jim Hudek, a dispatcher for the Minnesota State Patrol, said the patrol isn't ready yet to issue a no-travel recommendation: "We're all keeping an eye on what the storm's track is. Stay tuned to the forecast is the best advice we can give at this point."

Gene LaDoucer, a spokesman for AAA North Dakota, said area residents should be ready to revise their travel plans.

"With a forecast like the one we're looking at, it's imperative that you watch the weather and not take any unnecessary chances," LaDoucer said.

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