Winter Storm Warnings Issued: Timeline & Expected Impacts Posted

We are in the final stretch before our winter storm arrives, and the final details are coming together just in time to make final preperations

Chief Meteorologist Bob Riggio LIVE with your 5:30 PM Update on the coming winter storm.

  • Temperatures are already beginning to plummet this morning as the first of 2 cold fronts has pushed through the region, ushering in a few gusty winds
  • We’ll struggle to reach 40° today, before temperatures begin to plummet starting this afternoon and moving forward.

  • There are varying Winter Storm Warnings that have been issued by the National Weather Service in both Rapid City and Billings, MT.
  • These include varying degrees of expected accumulations and impacts.
  • Let’s first break down the expected timeline, and then we’ll break down the impacts by region, one by one.

  • A rain/snow mix is expected to move into Northeastern Wyoming and Southeastern Montana by lunchtime today, along with gusty Northwest winds up to 40 mph
  • Things should hold off for Rapid City and the South Dakota Black Hills until later in the afternoon and evening, where then we will start to see a mix of rain, snow, sleet, graupel, and everything else frozen that falls from the sky.

  • Right around 8-10 PM is when the Low-Pressure battleship will come to a halt and pivot – this is when maximum forcing will take place in the atmosphere.
  • Any rain that fell in the afternoon and early evening will quickly freeze, and snow will swiftly take over as the dominant precipitation from West to East.
  • Areas East of the Black Hills in the great plains may hold off on snow until early Thursday morning, but be prepared for several transitions – and travel impacts – by Wednesday evening

  • Blowing snow, temperatures in the teens and 20s and heavy accumulations will be taking place for a wide swath of the region by Thursday morning.
  • 45 mph wind gusts will be persistent from the Northwest, and this will be generally the most dangerous time for travel.
  • Wind Chills could be a low as the single digits – even a few negatives in the colder spots across the area. Make sure you have a way to stay warm.

  • By Late Thursday morning/early afternoon there will be signs of weakening and lighter snowfall.
  • Winds, however, will continue to punish the region, leading to blowing snow and hazardous road conditions

  • Overnight Thursday into Friday morning could see a re-surge of energy as the low pressure system completes its directional change and pushes Northeast.
  • This, thankfully, should be rather brief but could include a few heavy snow bands and continued windy conditions. Road conditions could still be hazardous.
  • By Friday afternoon and evening, high pressure will begin building in and pushing out any remaining snow. This is when real improvements to road conditions are expected.

  • There will be varying times of heavier snow, but the true impacts will be the windy conditions and cold temperatures.
  • Roads will easily freeze, leading to icy conditions that will then become covered in snow – this is a dangerous combination for anyone trying to drive.

REGION BY REGION BREAKDOWN

NORTH OF THE HILLS

  • Starting with areas North and Northeast of the Black Hills, accumulations will be heavier towards the Northeast
  • Areas of Perkins, Meade and Ziebach County could easily see up to a foot of snow, if not more in some isolated pockets
  • Butte and Harding County will could see a little less, along the range of 4″-7″ or 5″-8″ respectively with some heavier pockets as you head towards the Slim Buttes,
  • Carter County Montana could see some good amounts, but generally 3″-6″ of snow looks likely. the farther South you travel towards Alzada, the more likely you are to see accumulations a little higher than that.

NORTHEAST WYOMING

  • The bighorns region may escape the larger snowfall totals, as moisture will have a hard time wrapping back around as the clipper pivots Wednesday evening
  • 3-6″ of Snow for Sheridan and Johnson County seems reasonable, with higher amounts in the foothills.
  • Campbell County will be the dividing line between heavier and lighter impacts – specifically Gillette.
  • Once you head East of Gillette, conditions are expected to be a little more difficult with higher accumulations – starting specifically in Moorcroft and the Bear Lodge Mountains.
  • In these areas we could see totals ranging from 8″-12″… even higher as you approach the South Dakota border.
  • Weston County, WY and Newcastle will generally be protected by the Black Hills from higher snow amounts, but it still pays to be cautious. Snow will be blowing all over, ans snow covered roads will still be an issue.

BLACK HILLS, RAPID CITY, SOUTH DAKOTA PLAINS

  • Spearfish, Lead, Deadwood and the Northern Hills could end up taking the cake as far as accumulations are concerned.
  • Generally, 8-12″ can be expected, but I have no doubt some could get up to 2 feet along the foothills and areas of Lawrence County.
  • I think there will be a big cutoff right around Sturgis, Tilford and the I-90 corridor heading South, where accumulations could stay below the 12″ range
  • Rapid City, as it usually is, will be right on a fine line. On average I think 5-8″ is an appropriate estimation, with locally heavier pockets towards Rockerville and along highway 16.
  • I think Box Elder could surprise us with 7-11″, especially with the blowing and drifting snow coming off the great plains.
  • Hill City, Custer, Edgemont could see lesser amounts around the 4-7″ range – save for perhaps the higher elevations of Custer and Fall river County where 6″-9″ seems reasonable.
  • Ping Ridge, Martin, Kadoka, Wall and areas East of the Black hills could see anywhere from 6-9″ of snow, with locally heavy pockets of up to a foot. It’s a large range, but this area has the highest uncertainty in my book. I would prepare for the higher side of accumulations, and be pleasantly surprised if you see a little less.
  • Philip, Faith and areas North of I-90 i have more confidence in seeing the higher range of 8″-12″ of snow.
  • Once you get East of Haakon, Bennett and Jackson County accumulations will drop off into the 2-4″ range quickly, I think Philip will be a dividing line between the haves and have-nots.

DISCUSSION

The biggest impacts here will be the rain, quick drop in temperatures and rapid freezing with gusty winds. Blowing snow could stretch from Wednesday evening all the way through Friday. Even with sunny skies, ground blizzards can be treacherous. This will be on par with some of the Windy, Snowy events of March and April of this year, we’ve seen these kinds of storms, it’s all about getting back in the right mind-set and taking things slow. Power outages will be possible with the high winds and icy conditions – Have your cell phones charged and make sure NOT to run generators anywhere indoors – even your garage. The Fumes can be deadly. Lets send out some heartfelt thoughts and positive energy to our Ranchers and those who have had to prepare the most for this event. We’re going to keep you all updated throughout the day today and throughout this event. I’m bringing a cot and sleeping bag to the station, so my puppy and I will be nice and cozy for whatever might come through. Thank you for trusting us with your forecast, especially given the serious nature of these events – we take that trust seriously. Be safe out there folks – Brant

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