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First blizzard warnings of the season issued as powerful storm crosses the country

Wind-driven snow will make travel treacherous across the Upper Midwest through Thursday night. The same storm will bring heavy rain to the I-95 corridor Friday.
Image: Blizzard warning
A satellite image of weather over the U.S. on Thursday.NOAA

Winter alerts were up Thursday morning for 2 million people across the Northern Plains and the Upper Midwest, which included the first blizzard warnings of the season.

The blizzard warnings, in particular, were for parts of northeastern South Dakota and extreme western Minnesota. While the region is part of "blizzard alley," it's early for the season's first blizzard. November blizzard warnings are actually quite rare — the last time one was issued for this part of South Dakota was five years ago, in November 2016. Before that? 2008.

Wind alerts were also up for 11 million people as winds could gust as high as 50 mph through Thursday night.

Rain was forecast to change over to snow by the second half of the day Thursday across the northern Plains and the Upper Midwest, where as much as 8 inches of snow could fall across extreme northern parts of North Dakota and Minnesota.

The snow, combined with high winds, will cause poor visibility and dangerous travel conditions.

The storm system will shift east Friday, causing strong winds and heavy rain in the mid-Atlantic and the Northeast, including the urban corridor from Washington to Boston.

Travel along Interstate 95 will be nasty, especially during the morning commute and the first half of the day.

Here's when the heaviest rain is expected to fall:

Washington: 4-9 a.m. Friday

New York: 5 a.m.-noon Friday

Boston: noon-4 p.m. Friday

The good news? It’s a fast-moving storm system, so all rain is forecast to be off the East Coast by late Friday afternoon or early evening.

Rainfall amounts along the track of the storm will generally be 1 to 2 inches, with locally higher amounts possible.

And as is often the case with such powerful fall storm systems, cooler temperatures will blast in behind the storm as the rain exits, wiping away the mild and above-average temperatures that have dominated the eastern half of the country all week and replacing them with more of a November chill.