Seventy today … snowy tomorrow?

So goes another day living in South Dakota.

The National Weather Service in Sioux Falls is calling for a major storm to arrive this week. Mitchell and several other areas in central and eastern South Dakota are in a Winter Storm Watch. Early forecasts call for up to 22 inches of snow to fall Wednesday night into Thursday.

Wind gusts will be up to 55 mph.

Quite the forecast after temperatures in Mitchell reached 70 degrees Sunday and Monday.

“Historically, getting blizzards in April with heavy snow is not unusual,” said Phil Schumacher, meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Sioux Falls. “There’s a lot more energy in the air in April.”

Schumacher said the storm is expected to begin as rain Tuesday night. Then, the precipitation will change over to snow Wednesday evening and heavy snow overnight into Thursday.

Some NWS forecasts suggest 28 inches of snow during the two-day storm if the temperatures dip. If temperatures are warmer, less precipitation will fall as snow and there will be more rain and ice.  

It was almost exactly one year ago when Mitchell received another notable spring snowstorm. A two-day storm brought 16.2 inches, including an April single-day record of 12.5 inches on April 14.

“That could very well be broken,” Schumacher said.

Officials are also keeping an eye on potential worsening of flooding in the region. As of Monday evening, the James River at Mitchell was still in major flooding stage at 22.4 feet. Several roads in the area are still unpassable.

As for travel, it’s not going to be good, Schumacher said.

“People need to remember that conditions will deteriorate rapidly,” he said. “Travel could be impossible Wednesday night and Thursday. Be prepared for this storm, and be prepared you may be at your home for a while if the conditions do occur.”