Officials urge safe travel as storm crosses South Dakota
State officials are urging travelers to use caution across South Dakota Friday afternoon through Saturday morning.
The Department of Transportation issued a release Friday afternoon stating heavy snowfall and extremely high winds across western, central and northeast South Dakota will create difficult driving conditions for the start of the weekend.
Southeast South Dakota will see dense fog during the day Friday and overnight into Saturday morning. The Department of Transportation also warns that high winds and cold temperatures could cause ice to cover the roadways in that area.
From three to eight inches of snow are expected to blanket the western and central parts of the state. Again, high winds with guts up to 50 mph and wind chills to 30 below zero are expected.
The Department said weather combinations will create hazardous driving conditions with snow-packed and slippery roadways and near zero visibility, especially during the overnight hours. Drivers should be cautious of drifting, particularly in sheltered areas and at the ends of bridges.
The Department also recommends motorists move up travel plans to reach their destinations during daylight hours.
"I strongly encourage people who must travel to visit www.safetravelusa.com or call 511 to check the latest road conditions and travel advisories before heading out," said Kristi Sandal, public information officer for the Department of Transportation. "Keep in mind that visibility and road conditions can change rapidly as the storm passes through South Dakota."
Travelers are reminded that SDDOT crews will plow until early evening hours as conditions allow. After that, winter maintenance will be suspended and will resume about 5 a.m. tomorrow morning, weather permitting.
People who must travel in affected areas of South Dakota are advised to slow down and drive with extreme caution.
If you must travel, the departments of Transportation and Public Safety recommend travelers also take the following steps.
Wear your seatbelt
Travel during the day
Drive with your headlights on (not daytime running lights) so you can be seen by other motorists from the front and rear
Use highly traveled roads and highways
Keep family and friends informed of your travel schedule and route
Call 511 or visit safetravelusa.com for road conditions
Keep a winter weather survival kit in your car. The kit should include blankets, warm clothing, water, energy bars, a flashlight, a distress flag, a shovel and matches
Travel with a charged cell phone, but don't rely on it to get you out of a bad situation Change travel plans as weather conditions warrant
If you do get stranded:
Stay in your vehicle
Run the engine and heater about 10 minutes an hour to stay warm
When the engine is running, open a window slightly to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Periodically clearing snow from the exhaust pipe will also help prevent carbon monoxide buildup
When it's dark outside, turn on the interior light so rescuers can see you
Put up a distress flag, or spread a large colored cloth on the ground to attract attention from rescuers
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