Potential weekend snowstorm

Published: Oct. 19, 2020 at 9:35 PM CDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - The first big snowstorm of the season looks possible for this weekend. There are a lot of variables with this system and some big changes are still possible that cause the storm to miss to the north, or south, but as of right now, the threat for snow is possible. In this article, I will explain what those variables are and how you should start preparing, just in case this storm does happen.

Before the snow even starts, the weather could get a little dicey. On Friday, winds are currently forecast to be out of the east, which would create overcast skies, fog and mist. Temperatures will be below freezing, which would make it freezing fog/mist/drizzle. That could create slippery pavement. Weather models are showing the potential for some big snow starting Saturday morning and ending early Sunday. The heaviest snow, as of Monday 10/19/2020, looks to pass through the area, which would creates some big time travel problems Sunday and potentially into Monday.

The snow would begin Saturday morning, with the heaviest falling midday through the evening. Snow will slide southeast out of the area Sunday morning through the middle of the day. Some snow showers could linger Sunday afternoon, but the heaviest snow will be out of the area. Some spots could pick up 6″+ of snow if the storm hits us head on. While it looks to be breezy, with gusts up to 30 mph, it doesn’t look to be a blizzard as of right now. Travel impacts would be significant, with no travel advised in some spots and roads snow covered and slippery.

Now, there is still plenty of time between now and the weekend, which raises the potential for big changes in the storm track. Models update at least 4 times a day, which means there are still more than a dozen updates between now and when the snow begins to fall. The storm is well off into the Pacific Ocean, so it has yet to be sampled enough for models to adjust to real time information. If the path shifts north, the worst of the storm could impact North Dakota. If it shifts south, it could impact the panhandle of Nebraska. Less moisture would mean less snow, too. I will continue to post updates about the storm through the week to keep you updates with the latest information.

We all know South Dakota weather can change in the snap of a finger, therefore any snowfall maps you see on the internet that give out snow totals, you should ignore the numbers you see and take a different approach. Make a mental note that a snowstorm is possible. If you have any weekend plans, know that you might have to change them or even cancel them if the snow does fall and create significant impacts. There’s no need to go to the grocery and empty the shelves, because even if we do get significant snow, the roads will likely be drive-able by late Sunday, or mostly likely Monday/Tuesday.

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