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Northern Plains on alert for blizzard conditions

Matt Volz / AP

A man walks his dog past a half-buried statue of a newspaper boy in Helena, Mont., on Friday. The first major winter storm of the year led to blizzard warnings parts of Montana and dumped more than a foot of snow in Helena.

Snow and wind across parts of the western U.S. could create blizzard conditions into the weekend, triggering a number of winter weather advisories across the West.

Meteorologists predict the winter storm, which The Weather Channel dubbed "Brutus," could be worst over northern Montana, where blizzard warnings persist through Saturday morning, according to Weather.com. The winter system comes just days after a nor'easter hit the Northeast, which was still digging out from Superstorm Sandy.

Moisture moving from the Pacific, cold air over the mountain ranges and wind are combining to create potential blizzard conditions, according to Weather.com.

"The clouds have really blossomed across parts of the northern Rockies and northern High Plains, and that’s the area of heavy snow that’s been setting up over the last 24 hours," said meteorologist Carl Parker on The Weather Channel.

Montana will likely see the brunt of this system. The storm already began affecting Bozeman, Mont., where up to 8 inches of snow could fall by Saturday night, The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reported.

As of early Friday, nearly 10 inches of snow had fallen in Great Falls, Mont., the Weather Channel reported.

"The snow is likely to stick around through Saturday morning with additional accumulation expected for eastern Montana and lighter flurries for Billings and areas west," said Brad Carl, a meteorologist for KULR-8, Billing's NBC News affiliate.

AP Photo/Weather Underground

This NOAA satellite image taken Friday at 11 a.m. ET shows a low pressure system over the Rocky Mountains, with snow and cloudy conditions from Montana to Utah.

The National Weather Service is forecasting temperatures to be 10 to 25 degrees below average in parts of the northern high Plains, while sleet and freezing rain is possible over parts of the Upper Midwest.

Wind gusts as high as 85 mph blew into Salt Lake City on Friday, where snow began to fall in the morning, The Salt Lake Tribune reported. The area is already seeing crashes and power outages caused by the weather. Through the weekend, mountain areas in Utah could see one to two feet of snow, the newspaper added.

At least 12 to 18 inches of snow is expected across the San Juan Mountains in southwestern Colorado, according to The Weather Channel.

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