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Christmas blizzard could make some travel "dangerous if not impossible"

Christmas weather

CHICAGO – It’ll be a white Christmas for the northern Plains and some Western states, but forecasters warn blizzard conditions could make holiday travel in the region extremely treacherous.

The National Weather Service issued a blizzard warning for most of North Dakota, western South Dakota and a small section of eastern Montana through Monday, with expected snow totals of 8 to 15 inches and winds up to 55 mph.

The weather service warns that will make travel “very dangerous if not impossible.”

“Conditions will be dicey for any Christmas Day travelers” in the region, meteorologist Molly Rosenblatt of CBS affiliate WCCO in Minneapolis told CBS News. “We’ll see things really start to deteriorate for much of the western portion of the country — again, the Rockies, Plains states, as well as the Upper Midwest.”

An ice storm warning is in effect through late Sunday for central South Dakota, southwest North Dakota and much of central Minnesota, with up to half an inch of ice expected. 

Forecasters said anyone who “must travel” should have an extra flashlight, food and water. AAA predicted a record 103 million Americans would be traveling over the Christmas and New Year’s holiday period.

Elsewhere, dense fog had built up Sunday morning in parts of Kansas, the Ozarks, Kentucky, Tennessee and the Gulf Coast states. Kansas could see some rain and severe storms, Rosenblatt said.

The eastern part of the country is in better shape, with relatively mild winter temperatures and no severe weather to interfere with holiday plans. 

Across the south, the unusually warm temperatures will hit highs in the mid to upper 70s.