DOT readies for another winter blast
About 14,000 tons of salt have been used to clear interstates and state highways this winter in the southeastern part of the state.
That's according to Jeff Gustafson, an operations engineer for the state Department of Transportation in the Mitchell region, which covers 2,500 miles of roads in southeastern South Dakota from the Missouri River east and from state Highway 34 south to Nebraska.
"I would say that's fairly typical," he said of using 14,000 tons by this point in the season.
Thursday, a spring storm will force the DOT to use even more salt.
Jeff Chapman, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Sioux Falls, said the Mitchell area could receive 5 to 8 inches of snow.
"It will come down heavy at times during the afternoon and early evening hours," Chapman said Wednesday afternoon.
Chapman said Mitchell is on the edge of where the storm will dump the most snow. He estimated Mitchell -- which is in a winter weather advisory Thurday -- will receive 5.5 inches.
West of town is forecast to get 3 to 5 inches, while east of town could see 5 to 8 inches.
Chapman said to expect driving conditions to get downgraded.
"Right now, it's looking like the main snow won't get going until later in the morning, after 10 a.m.," he said. "The main snow, the more significant snow will fall between 1 and 10 p.m."
Mitchell has received a total of 30.8 inches of snow this season, according to the NWS. That's one-half inch behind the total on today's date one year ago.
Gustafson said the Mitchell region has spent $2.8 million on road maintenance this winter. That includes paying for vehicle usage, employees and salt. He said that's about the same as what was spent last year.
The DOT is on track to spend $9.5 million statewide on winter road maintenance this winter, Gustafson said.
After today's blast of snow, there's a 30 percent chance of snow Friday, a day that will also see blowing snow with wind gusts as high as 30 mph.
Chapman said a warm-up can be expected next week. He said high temperatures will rise to the 50s this weekend and into the 60s next week.
"We're ready for it," Gustafson said. "It will be nice."