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Storm clobbers Midwest with snow, wind, frigid air

(Reuters) - A wintry storm unleashed high winds, frigid air and heavy snowfall across the Upper Midwest on Sunday, with Minneapolis expecting as much as 12 inches of snow by evening, meteorologists said.

The blizzard-like conditions stretching across the Dakotas, Minnesota and into Wisconsin cut visibility and made for hazardous driving conditions that were expected to worsen as the storm picks up toward nightfall, weather forecasters said.

"That wind and snow is making a combination that is a lethal one," said meteorologist Nick Walker on Weather.com.

The storm pattern is in the shape of a fried egg, with the heaviest snowfall in the yolk - the Minneapolis area - and less severe but still harsh conditions in the surrounding areas of the Dakotas and Wisconsin, said meteorologist Eric Fisher on Weather.com.

"One small area from Minneapolis northward to around St. Cloud could see some pretty significant totals," Fisher said.

Meteorologist Andrew Baglini on Accuweather.com said the snowfall could be upward of a foot, especially in the Minneapolis area.

By early morning, visibility in Minneapolis was down to a 1/2 mile in some places, Baglini said.

While sustained winds in the Minneapolis area were expected to reach 30 miles per hour by evening, wind gusts had already been clocked at 40 miles per hour across North and South Dakota by morning, he said.

"That combined with colder temperatures and still some snow across the area is going to make for very rough travel conditions," Baglini said.

Early morning temperatures in Fargo, North Dakota, plunged to 7 degrees with 30 mile per hour winds, Baglini said.

(Reporting by Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Edith Honan and Bill Trott)

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