Major Storm Tomorrow-Thursday (Then Warmer And Dry)


We are melting snow across KELOLAND during today’s “calm before the storm.” Temperatures have been above-freezing, in the mid 30s in the north to the 40s along and south of I-90. Skies have been mostly cloudy, with a light south breeze helping to warm us up. There are a few light showers in SE South Dakota, NW Iowa, and SW Minnesota.

Tonight we’ll continue to have clouds overhead as the big storm system approaches from the south. There could be some light showers overnight, or even some fog in the north due to today’s snowmelt. Winds will be very light, and overnight lows will be in the 20s and 30s. Rapid City and SW South Dakota will start to see some snow toward sunrise.

Tomorrow we will see rain come up to Sioux Falls from the south during the morning hours. Western South Dakota will have snow that will quickly spread into the central part of the state. In between the two areas, in a line from south central SD to the NE, we could have rain, freezing rain, or show depending on exactly where the boundary sets up. Winds will become northerly, and pick up in intensity – especially in western South Dakota, where wind gusts over 50 mph will be possible.

Rain will continue in Sioux Falls and eastern South Dakota on Thursday, and snow with blizzard conditions will continue in the central and west. Temperatures will be in the 30s, but all of KELOLAND has the potential to see wind gusts of 50 mph or possible. Sioux Falls and eastern KELOLAND, those areas that got primarily rainfall, could get an inch or two of snow before the storm exits Thursday night. Because of strong winds, it is possible that blizzard-like conditions could rapidly develop in open areas.

We still expect that the heaviest snowfall will be in a stripe from around Martin to Murdo to near Pierre. Those areas have a very good chance at a foot of snow – and two feet is not impossible in some locations in the SW quarter of South Dakota.

We are also concerned about an icing situation developing in the “dividing line” between rain and snow. Freezing rain could easily coat not only roadways, but powerlines. The icing would come along with winds gusts of 50 mph or greater, and that could stress – if not break – powerlines.

Sioux Falls and SE KELOLAND has the possibility of an inch or two of rainfall. Even thunderstorms will be possible. There is no place for that water to run off, so we could be looking at more ponding or even flooding. In Sioux Falls itself, it could resemble the flooding and slush we had that impacted intercity travel last Saturday, although we could have twice as much water as Saturday to deal with.

The storm should pull away on Friday, though it could still be breezy during the early part of the day. We are going with partly cloudy skies, and highs in the low to mid 30s.

There is some good news in the forecast for the weekend: We’ve upped the forecast highs a bit, with no rain or snow. It should be decent for the St. Pat’s parade and festivities. Skies will be clear to partly cloudy Saturday and Sunday, with highs in the 30s to around 40 degrees.

Next week will be warmer, with little or no rainfall (or snowfall) in sight. We’ll have 30s climbing into the 40s through midweek. The second half of next week is looking even warmer. In fact, we will rapidly warm into the 40s or even 50s in the southern half of KELOLAND. One of our forecast models wants to push Sioux Falls near 60 degrees at the end of the week.

We’re pretty confident about strong warming next week. I suppose I should temper that good news by mentioning that this rapid warming may result in snowmelt flooding, or even ice jam flooding on area waterways. At least it will feel like Spring – the season which officially begins next Wednesday.

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