State officials warning public to take incoming winter storm seriously
PIERRE, S.D. — South Dakota state officials are warning citizens to take a late-winter storm predicted to hit this week seriously.
The Department of Public Safety released a warning on Monday night urging people to make preparations now, including adjusting travel plans, preparing elderly neighbors, pets and livestock, and stocking up on supplies like food, water and medication.
The National Weather Service predicts the heaviest snow will begin falling in western and central South Dakota on Wednesday morning. At the same time, portions of the eastern and south central part of the state may see freezing and heavy rain, which could result in downed power lines and flooding.
Overnight Wednesday into Thursday, central South Dakota can expect winds as high as 70 miles per hour, which will bring blowing and drifting snow and reduced visibility. Snow is expected throughout most of South Dakota by Thursday before finally ending that afternoon and evening. Up to two feet of snow could fall in some areas.
Wednesday and Thursday are expected to be heavy traffic days with many people attending state high school basketball tournaments starting Thursday in Aberdeen, Rapid City and Sioux Falls.
State Department of Public Safety Secretary Craig Price says people should start to adjust their travel plans now.
“There are still a lot of questions about the timing and direction of this storm, but for now we encourage people going anywhere in western South Dakota to be at their place of destination by Tuesday night,” he says. “For those headed elsewhere in South Dakota, you should get to your destination by sometime Wednesday afternoon. The current forecast indicates travel will likely be very difficult by Thursday morning.”
The Department of Public Safety says that if you do get stranded while on the road, you should always do the following:
- 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