Blizzard brings little moistureMitchell recorded 54 mph wind gust.
By: Candy DenOuden, The Daily Republic
Winter made up for lost time, blowing in snow, ice and frigid temperatures over the weekend. Brad Temeyer, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service South Dakota field office, said some of the state’s heaviest snowfall was along the Highway 41 area, including 10 inches by Brookings from Saturday to Sunday.
“This system kind of came in two bouts,” Temeyer said. He said the first one was Saturday night, with a “very wet snow,” followed by a colder, dryer snowfall on Sunday. “Since it’s become much cooler, it’s a much dryer snow,” he said.
Huron reported 6.5 inches on Saturday, while Mitchell reported just 1.5 inches of snow from Saturday to Sunday, Temeyer said. About 15 hundredths of an inch of that snowfall was water, he added. Though Mitchell didn’t set the record for snowfall, Temeyer said it did record the highest wind gust for the area. Around 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, Temeyer said a gust of 54 mph was recorded in Mitchell. Other gusts in the area averaged from 40 to 50 mph, Temeyer said.
Sustained winds for the area Sunday ranged from 19 to 38 mph in Mitchell.
Temeyer said some of the coldest wind chills were near Forestburg and Kimball, which hit 19 and 20 degrees below zero, respectively. Mitchell was slightly warmer recording a 14-below windchill, while Gregory reported 15 below and Ethan reported windchill was 13 below.
Department of Transportation and Public Safety officials said the combination of snow, cold temperatures and wind gusts created poor visibilities — nearly “white outs” in some areas — and slick conditions across much of the state. Temeyer said visibilities where snow fell typically were a half mile or less.
“Visibilities have generally been pretty poor,” he said.
Those conditions caused officials to close Interstate 90 from Chamberlain and Sioux Falls and Interstate 29 between Sioux Falls and Sisseton for most of the day Sunday.
“These segments of Interstate will remain closed until conditions improve and crews are able to clear the roadway,” said a release from the Department of Transportation.
DOT officials announced Interstate 90 between Chamberlain and Mitchell reopened about 6:45 p.m. Sunday, but remained closed from Mitchell to Sioux Falls until about 8:30 p.m. Officials said Interstate 29 between Watertown and Sioux Falls would remain closed until sometime this morning.
Most local law enforcement officials indicated people heeded those warning, saying road conditions were poor across most of the area but there were no serious accidents.
In McCook County, Chief Deputy Matt Bormann said there were six or seven cars that went in the ditch as a result of slippery roads, but no one was injured and damages were minor.
The Mitchell Emergency Communications Center and Davison County Sheriff’s Office released similar information, listing about 14 accident and motorist assist calls from 5 a.m. to about 5 p.m. Sunday.
Those calls included everything from an overturned camper trailer to vehicles sliding into the ditch. There were no injuries.
Despite portions of the Interstate reopening Sunday evening, roads remained treacherous in spots.
South Dakota Highway Patrol Trooper Micheal Peterson said Christine Ann Duerksen, 33, of Bridgewater, rolled her pickup Sunday.
According to Peterson, Duerksen was driving a 2012 Dodge pickup eastbound on Highway 42 about 5:30 p.m. Sunday when she lost control due to icy roads, went into the north ditch, collided with a box culvert and the vehicle rolled onto its rooftop.
Peterson said Duerksen was wearing her seat belt, which was a “huge factor” in preventing her from being injured during the accident.
Mitchell Emergency Communications also reported several calls regarding power outages in the Lake Mitchell residential area, though whether they were specifically weatherrelated was not clear.
Officials reminded travelers that state law includes criminal penalties and a civil fine of up to $1,000 for being on a closed highway. Motorists found traveling on closed sections of I-90 and I-29 during the closure will be in violation of state law. A stranded traveler could also be charged for the cost of a rescue effort, up to $10,000.
“We understand that people want to be on the roads and about their business, but we ask for patience while our maintenance crews clear the roads,” said Greg Fuller, director of operations for the South Dakota Transportation Department in a release. “Strong winds are expected to continue over a large portion of South Dakota into the early evening hours. That means travel will continue to be a challenge, and patience is part of making safe choices.”
Even though most highways remained open, DOT officials said many have no travel advisories and motorists should expect difficult travel conditions until the precipitation and wind diminish.
Officials asked travelers to check www.safetravelusa.com/sd/ and 511 and prior to making travel plans.
In Mitchell, city officials declared it a “snow emergency,” reminding residents not to park in emergency snow routes until the storm ended. Any vehicles not moved were subject to tickets or towing. Temeyer said it looks like area residents will get a bit of a reprieve in the coming days, with cool temperatures in the beginning but warming up a bit toward mid-week.
“Temps may possibly get above freezing on Wednesday,” he said. Those numbers will dip back down toward the end of the week, as Temeyer said another system could move in next weekend. “Otherwise, it mainly looks like dry conditions,” he said.