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Expected forecast climbs to 12-18 inches of snow in crippling storm

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The National Weather Service's expected snowfall forecast, effective from 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 27 to 6 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 29. The graphic was created at 3 p.m. Friday (National Weather Service Sioux Falls office)

Forecasters have ramped up the expected snowfall totals ahead of a “crippling,” year-end snowstorm that is expected to bring at least a foot of snow to much of south-central South Dakota.

The National Weather Service said Friday afternoon that Mitchell is expected to receive between 12 and 18 inches of snow over a 48-hour span through 6 p.m. Sunday night. Communities to the north and west of Mitchell — including Chamberlain, Gregory, Huron, Lake Andes, and Woonsocket — are also forecasted to receive 12 to 18 inches of snow. To the east, communities such as Brookings, Madison, Salem, Freeman and Yankton are in the range slated to receive 8 to 12 inches of snow. Sioux Falls is forecasted for 6 to 8 inches of snow but expected to receive up to a quarter-inch of ice along the Interstate 29 corridor.

Previously, Mitchell was estimated to receive about 6 to 8 inches of snow in the storm, but the area now expected to receive a foot of snow or more stretches from Mobridge and Winner east to Sisseton and Wagner.

Forecasts are predicting that snow could come in two waves, starting on Friday night and into Saturday morning, with mixtures of rain, freezing rain and snow as possibilities early in the storm. Snow is expected to fall at heavier rates on Saturday night. In Mitchell alone, 10 inches of snow are forecasted for Sunday, according to the NWS.

Stronger winds with the storm are expected to pick up on Sunday and Sunday night, gusting to 35 to 40 mph in the Mitchell area.

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The South Dakota Department of Transportation cautioned travelers on Friday that the storm will likely make travel “nearly impossible” in many areas of the state through the weekend and into Monday. They said motorists should avoid trying to drive during the snow system Saturday through Monday.

“Travelers are reminded that DOT crews will plow until early evening hours as conditions allow,” the state DOT said. “After that, winter maintenance will be suspended and will resume about 5 a.m. the next morning, weather permitting.”

NorthWestern Energy, which is the primary electricity provider in the city of Mitchell, said it is adjusting staffing in anticipation of this winter storm. (Outages can be reported at 1-800-245-6977 and online at northwesternenergy.com.) Customers were reminded to clear furnace and appliance vents from snow and ice to avoid buildup of deadly carbon monoxide in homes and to only use unvented space heaters in well-ventilated areas.

Related Topics: WEATHER
Traxler is the assistant editor and sports editor for the Mitchell Republic. He's worked for the newspaper since 2014 and has covered a wide variety of topics. He can be reached at mtraxler@mitchellrepublic.com.
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