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A blizzard warning issued early Wednesday for part of southeastern Montana will remain in effect until noon Thursday, according to the National Weather Service in Billings. 

The warning for parts of Powder River and Carter counties includes Broadus, Biddle, Powderville, Sonnette, Ekalaka, Alzada, Hammond and Belltower. In those areas where 4 to 8 inches of snow could accumulate and be accompanied by wind gusts up to 50 miles per hour. 

Similar conditions have prompted a blizzard warning for the Sheridan foothills in Wyoming. Sheridan, Dayton, Ranchester and Big Horn could see accumulations and wind conditions like those in southeastern Montana, although in the community of Story snowfall could total a foot. 

The warning for parts of Montana and Wyoming went into effect at about 6 a.m. Wednesday. Blizzard conditions are expected to make travel conditions "very difficult" during the day and "likely impossible overnight with severe blowing and drifting snow and near visibility times." 

The NWS Billings warning specifically notes U.S. Highway 212, Highway 59 and state road 323 as some of the roadways that will be affected by blizzard conditions. 

People were advised not to travel, but to bring a winter survival kit if they do. "If you get stranded, stay with your vehicle," NWS Billings advised. 

Wednesday morning forecasts showed blizzard conditions for large stretches of Wyoming beyond the Sheridan foothills, prompting the Natrona County School District to cancel school, The Casper Star-Tribune reported.

The Wyoming newspaper reported a forecast of between 10 and 16 inches of total snow along with wind gusts up to 45 mph, prompting the morning closure of Interstate 25.

By Wednesday afternoon Casper saw between 7 and 13 inches in Natrona County, and 1-3 more inches are expected Wednesday night. The snowstorm prompted the governor to warn residents to stay inside, the Casper Star-Tribune reported. Portions of Interstate 90 between Sheridan and Buffalo were closed Wednesday evening and weren't expected reopen for 13 to 15 hours according to the Wyoming Department of Transportation. 

The blizzard and winter storm warnings stretched down eastern Wyoming as far as Denver. Similar warnings were also put into effect Wednesday for central and western South Dakota and portions of North Dakota. 

The massive system is a typical winter storm accompanied by strong northerly winds, said NWS Billings meteorologist Brian Tesar. The strong winds are the result of a low-pressure system in Colorado moving slowly northeast. 

"That pressure gradient that develops because of that strong low is what drives those strong northerly winds we're going to get," Tesar said. 

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Although a winter weather advisory was in effect for Billings since 6 a.m. Wednesday and expected to last until noon on Thursday, it expired by the afternoon Wednesday. Billings saw hardly any accumulation and no more snowfall was predicted Wednesday night, Billings NWS meteorologist Nickolai Riemer said. Winds between 15 and 20 mph are still predicted, he said.

“The storm mainly went a little further south and east of where we were expecting it,” Riemer said, saying the storm mostly hit Wyoming, Colorado and the South Dakota.

The blizzard caused Denver to cancel over 1,300 flights and shutdown its runways Wednesday afternoon, causing cancellation of flights to both Billings and Bozeman airports.

Another winter weather advisory went into effect Wednesday just before 4 p.m., south of Billings for Bridger, Joliet, Fromberg, Belfry, Warren, Red Lodge, Roberts Roscoe, Fishtail, McLeod and Nye. Those communities, including the Red Lodge foothills, Beartooth Foothills and eastern Carbon County could see 2 to 5 inches of snow with wind gusts up to 35 mph.

"Snow will cause primarily travel difficulties," the advisory states. Road conditions could become slippery and blowing snow could "limit visibility," according to the advisory.

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Night Reporter

General assignment reporter for The Billings Gazette.