Crookston schools letting out early Friday.

The headline on the website homepage of the Grand Forks National Weather Service Forecast Office Friday morning perhaps says it best in regard to the strong storm system barreling through the region: The worst is yet to come. “Don’t let your guard down,” the next line reads.

But as of now, the worst seems to be in North Dakota, where a blizzard warning and winter storm warning are both in effect well into Saturday. As for Crookston, a day of cold and wind and rain on Thursday and overnight into Friday finally gave way to snow around 6:30 Friday morning, and the heavy, slushy snow is starting to stick.

Crookston Public Schools announced around 9:30 Friday morning that school would be letting out early. Washington School is releasing students at 12:20 p.m., followed by Highland School at 12:40 and Crookston High School at 12:50 p.m.

While snow predictions are being measured in the feet in North Dakota – 6 to 12 inches is already on the ground – Crookston and Polk County are on the eastern edge of the winter storm warning boundary, which is in effect until 1 p.m. Saturday. Crookston is included in a narrow band that could receive, by Saturday afternoon according to Weather Underground, up to 8 inches of snow, which could fall along with freezing rain and sleet. With daytime high temperatures in the mid-30s and overnight lows only a few degrees colder, precipitation is a wintry mix.

North winds gusting up to 50 miles per hour are expected to make conditions, especially on the roads and in open country, especially hazardous.

Meanwhile, the rain that’s fallen as part of this system, added to several weeks featuring significant rains in the region, is filling ditches with water and leading to rising rivers and creeks. Sump pumps are working in overdrive.

In Crookston, with the Red Lake River, according to a National Weather Service hydrograph, projected to crest at 19.5 feet by the end of the weekend – enough to potentially inundate Central Park – the City closed the park Thursday. All of the campers there – people staying in Crookston temporarily to help with the sugar beet harvest that’s currently stalled – were relocated to Town Square.