RAPID CITY, S.D. (KELO) — All is quiet on the western front… For now, at least.
Starting tonight, much of western South Dakota will be under a blizzard warning with strong winds and whiteout conditions present for most of the week.
“Whiteout conditions, driving will be very challenging, if not impossible,” meteorologist Brian Karstens said Monday. “In the Black Hills, where we typically get a little more snow accumulation due to the wind, we think the northern Black Hills could stand a couple feet of snow easily on the table.”
Karstens said they’re expecting about a foot of snow in Rapid City with 18-24 inches expected near Philip.
Right now, things out west are quiet but once the sun sets out west the winds will begin to increase up to 40 or 50 mph. The wind will stick around through Tuesday, when Karstens said conditions will really begin to deteriorate, and into Wednesday.
Anticipating dangerous road conditions
Strong winds combined with any amount of snowfall will create dangerous whiteout conditions, drifts, and blowing snow.
Dale Pfeifle, superintendent of the Rapid City Street Department, is especially concerned about the wind gusts forecasted.
“So, it’s going to be one of them things where corners are going to plug up, people aren’t going to be able to see, obviously, our operators are going to have to drive a lot slower,” Pfeifle said. “Because we need to make sure that they’re safe and the public is safe also.”
Pfeifle said that for the last week the city has been pre-treating the streets and double-checking equipment in preparation for this week’s storm.
The city will be working nonstop once the snow begins to keep emergency routes clear, Pfeifle added.
For those traveling this week, Pfeifle wants you to remember to clean off the top off your car before hitting the road.
“As they drive down the road, inadvertently, they’re leaving this big cloud of snow behind them. And it could impact the way another driver is their ability to see because of the snow blowing off the cars and sometimes I’ve seen it where you hit the brakes and all that stuff slides down and slides down since I turn your windshield, right?” Pfeifle said.
He also recommends driving the weather conditions, not the speed limit due to the anticipated visibility issues.
“You know, you can have the best vehicle with the best tires, if you can’t see you are putting yourself in harm’s way and that’s one thing we try very hard to do is our best to keep everybody safe,” Pfeifle said.
Crews in Sturgis are also preparing and will have crews on standby to keep emergency routes open.
“This storm will enter our area for the most part overnight and when residents wake up, conditions are expected to have deteriorated greatly,” Public Works Director Rick Bush said in a release Monday.
The City of Sturgis is asking that residents remove vehicles from the roadway to help the city be able to plow the roads more easily.
Once the storm slows down, Bush said that normal snow removal operations will begin across the city.
Custer State Park Administrative Office and Visitor Center will be closed Tuesday due to the storm. They also announced that Needles Highway and Iron Mountain Road are closed temporarily.
Frigid cold to follow the storm
The winter storm is expected to stick around through Thursday when Karstens said conditions should begin to wind down.
Once the storm settles, the cold will linger and it’s going to be “bitter”, according to Karstens.
“And there are going to be probably least a couple of days in that forecast possibly longer, where we’re going to have high temperatures struggling to hit zero in many areas of KELOLAND,” Karstens said.
That means we can anticipate subzero temperatures and wind chills even once the snow stops falling.
KELOLADN News and KELOLAND Weather will be tracking this week’s winter storm on-air and online throughout the week.
Send photos of the winter storm to firstname.lastname@example.org and you might see them featured online and on-air.