After enduring an intense spring and summer of rain, flooding and tornadoes, South Dakotans are now looking at the arrival of the first winter storm of the season later this week.
The National Weather Service in Sioux Falls indicated a major winter storm is expected to roll across South Dakota starting late Wednesday night through Friday morning. The storm is expected to affect mainly portions of central and north central South Dakota and may include heavy snow, with total accumulations ranging from 5 to 11 inches in some areas and wind gusts as high as 40 mph.
Brad Adams, with the National Weather Service in Sioux Falls, said the storm will begin with rain and move into snow by Thursday.
“(The Mitchell area) will get some showers and scattered storms Wednesday evening, but it transitions into cold rain by Thursday morning and then transitions to snow in the evening Thursday,” Adams said. “The bulk of (the storm) will be Thursday night into Friday morning.”
For Mitchell, about an inch of slushy snow is currently forecast for the storm, though ground temperatures suggest any accumulation may be short-lived. Totals for snowfall increase to the west and north, with Chamberlain and Huron expected to receive as much as 2 inches of snow. Less snow is expected to the east and south, with Olivet expected to receive less than an inch.
Counties expected to be the most impacted by the storm include Corson, Campbell, McPherson, Walworth, Edmunds, Dewey, Potter, Stanley, Sully, Hughes and Jones.
Travel could be difficult in throughout the region, according to the National Weather Service. The storm may bring blowing snow that can reduce visibility, impacting the morning or evening commutes.
Adams said the snow could make for some slippery conditions on roads throughout the area, but freezing rain and ice are not expected to be a factor.
“It’s going to be mainly a rain to snow transition,” Adams said.
Winds and wind chill will bring colder temperatures than the area has seen in some time.
“It’s going to be blustery, and wind chills will be a problem,” Adams said. “Winds will be 30 to 40 miles per hour overnight Thursday into Friday, and we could see some wind chills in the lower teens or the lower to upper 20s.”
Mitchell and southeast South Dakota suffered heavy rainfalls and flooding during the spring and summer, and Adams said the outlook for the next few months suggest the average to above-average precipitation will continue.
“It looks like we’re going to finish the year with above normal precipitation,” he said.
Adams said residents should start thinking weather safety now as the area transitions from autumn to winter.
“Right now make sure your dressed appropriately as it changes and be ready for some potentially slippery roads and slow down a bit,” Adams said. “People just need to be ready for that. And staying abreast of the latest forecast would be helpful, as well.”