A major winter storm is expected to bring freezing rain, heavy snow and strong winds across much of South Dakota over the weekend.
The National Weather Service has issued a blizzard watch for central and eastern South Dakota for Saturday night through Monday morning. Six to 12 inches of snow is expected in portions of the Black Hills, southwestern, central and northeastern South Dakota with sustained winds at 20-40 mph with even higher gusts. Lesser amounts of snow from two to six inches are expected in portions of northwestern and southeastern areas of the state.
This weather combination will create hazardous driving conditions with dangerous wind chills and near zero visibility. Roads are likely to become snow covered and drifting may occur, particularly in sheltered areas and at the ends of bridges.
"This is a nasty winter storm that is going to make travel extremely difficult, if not impossible, throughout much of the state Saturday night through Monday morning," says Transportation secretary Darin Bergquist. "Conditions will deteriorate rapidly as the storm moves through South Dakota and people should make plans to stay put or extend their stay until Monday."
People who must travel should drive with extreme caution and are encouraged to visit www.safetravelusa.com/sd or dial 511 to check the latest road conditions and travel advisories before heading out.
Travelers are reminded that SDDOT crews will plow until early evening hours as conditions allow. After that, winter maintenance will be suspended and will resume about 5 a.m. the next morning, weather permitting.
If you must travel, the departments of Transportation and Public Safety recommend travelers also take the following steps.
§ Change travel plans as weather conditions warrant
If you do get stranded:
§ Stay in your vehicle