Winter Storm Watch Posted for the Black Hills

Details are starting to come together about what specific impacts we could see Wednesday through Friday, it's something worth watching


  • Before we get to the grind of polishing this week’s snow event, lets briefly recap Tuesday’s weather.
  • Temperatures will start out cool, and warm up nicely into the 70s and even a few 80s towards the great plains
  • Tuesday night will feature our first cold front, dropping temperatures into the 30s and 40s in time for Wednesday morning.

  • A Winter Storm Watch has been issued by the National Weather Service in Rapid City for the entire Black Hills Region for Wednesday evening through Thursday morning
  • This will likely be upgraded to Winter Storm Warnings before all is said and done, but for now the Watch is for expectations of 6″ of snow or greater and 45 mph winds

  • By Wednesday morning, Snow mixed with rain is expected to move through South Central Montana, moving into Northeastern Wyoming and areas of Carter County, MT
  • Most precipitation early in the day should be in the form of rain or a mix in Rapid City and the foothills

  • By Wednesday evening, a full transition to snow is expected, with gusty winds and quickly deteriorating road conditions
  • Snow could be heavy at times, a few heavier bands are expected to park themselves over the Black Hills overnight

  • By early Thursday morning, snow will continue in the region, with a slow clearing taking place starting in Montana and moving Westward
  • Even as snow begins to taper off West to East, gusty winds will continue all the way through Thursday evening.
  • This could lead to blowing snow, hazardous road conditions and low visibility

  • Temperatures on Tuesday will be warm, topping the 80s in some cases, so the quick drop in temperatures through Wednesday could be a shock to the system.
  • Don’t be caught unprepared, if you do plan on travelling, bring clothes for mid-january – that inlcudes gloves, hats and snow boots

  • Temperatures may not even make it out of the 20’s on Thursday, with several areas Thursday morning capable of seeing lower teens with a bitter wind chill
  • This will be especially hard on any areas that receive rain Wednesday evening, as it is expected to freeze on road surfaces and trees

  • The combination of rain, quickly dropping temperatures, high winds and trees with full foliage still could pose problems
  • Broken tree limbs – and possible power outages are possible. Make sure your cell phones are charged, and do NOT run generators indoors

  • There is a possibility that snow bands could re-emerge Friday morning across the Black Hills and South Dakota plains specifically
  • Models are in disagreement, but be sure to keep an eye on Friday morning’s forecast if you plan on travelling as we could still be talking hazardous driving conditions

  • Snow maps are still in flux at this point, but a general overview of possible accumulations is starting to come together
  • Areas of the Northern and Eastern Black Hill, including the Bear Lodge mountains could have some isolated pockets of heavy accumulations around 10-16″
  • Areas of the South Dakota Plains could see 8-12″ in pockets, but generally 6-9″ of snow seems a reasonable estimate at this point.
  • It’s hard to justify putting higher amounts, as these Alberta Clippers generally don’t carry a massive amount of moisture with them – we need more help from a potential Colorado low pressure system to bring up gulf moisture to get those higher amounts.
  • A Colorado Low is expected to enter the picture… but after most of the action has already passed to our East. East River, Iowa and Minnesota looks like they could receive the brunt of that system
  • It’s still possible that our Clipper slows down… allows more time for the Colorado Low to catch up and feed moisture into our system – but personally i’m not going to play the what if game when it comes to situations like this, especially 48-72 hours out. We’ll know alot more tomorrow

Communicating this forecast is difficult – We obviously want to take any October snow system seriously and to make common sense preparations, but making comparisons to the absolute and -total- disaster of Winter Storm Atlas back in 2013 is a dangerous game. This is a storm you should take seriously, no question, but lets wait for all the data to come out before making doomsday preparations – it’s expensive and costly for some folks and its not like going out and purchasing some groceries like the rest of us, there is still alot of anxiety out there. Let’s keep cooler heads about this, I know we’ll all be smart out there and make common sense perpetration. Most important, KEEP checking the forecast! This will change no doubt as details become more clear. thank you all for sticking with us 🙂 – Brant

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