State officials warn of blizzard conditions this weekend
A major winter storm is expected to bring freezing rain, heavy snow and strong winds across much of South Dakota over the weekend.
The National Weather Service has issued a blizzard watch for central and eastern South Dakota for Saturday night through Monday morning. Six to 12 inches of snow is expected in portions of the Black Hills, southwestern, central and northeastern South Dakota with sustained winds at 20-40 mph with even higher gusts. Lesser amounts of snow from two to six inches are expected in portions of northwestern and southeastern areas of the state.
This weather combination will create hazardous driving conditions with dangerous wind chills and near zero visibility. Roads are likely to become snow covered and drifting may occur, particularly in sheltered areas and at the ends of bridges.
"This is a nasty winter storm that is going to make travel extremely difficult, if not impossible, throughout much of the state Saturday night through Monday morning," says Transportation secretary Darin Bergquist. "Conditions will deteriorate rapidly as the storm moves through South Dakota and people should make plans to stay put or extend their stay until Monday."
People who must travel should drive with extreme caution and are encouraged to visit www.safetravelusa.com/sd or dial 511 to check the latest road conditions and travel advisories before heading out.
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. the next morning, weather permitting.
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