Winter storm in eastern SD could make travel difficult
PIERRE - State officials are cautioning travelers that freezing rain, ice and snow in parts of South Dakota from Friday night through early Sunday morning could create difficult travel conditions.
Weather forecasts show the greatest likelihood of significant ice accumulations is in northeastern South Dakota, along the Interstate 29 corridor from Watertown to the North Dakota border. Precipitation will change over to snow sometime Saturday with winds from 20 to 30 mph Saturday evening into Sunday.
Rain and freezing rain changing over to snow could also impact travel in other parts of the state.
South-central areas could receive some ice accumulations, as well as snowfall of two to five inches and winds from 20 to 30 mph with higher gusts.
Southeast areas will see rain changing over to snow Saturday afternoon with accumulations from two to six inches and winds from 25 to 35 mph with higher gusts.
During the overnight hours tonight and through Sunday, motorists can expect icy and snow-packed roadways and possible blowing and drifting snow, especially at bridge ends and in sheltered areas.
Travelers attending the many weekend tournaments and other events should be alert to changing conditions and be prepared to adjust travel plans if necessary.
"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. "If you are traveling in the affected areas, slow down and drive with extreme caution."
Motorists are reminded that SDDOT crews will maintain roads until early evening hours as conditions allow. After that, winter maintenance will be suspended and 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