Hitting the road Wednesday? You might need to change plans

RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA TV) - A major blizzard will blast through South Dakota and Wyoming Wednesday afternoon through at least Thursday morning. How well you survive depends on your preparation.

The staff at the state Department of Public Safety suggests that people adjust travel plans; and stay home if possible.

Timing is a problem with this storm. The state high school basketball tournaments start Thursday in Aberdeen, Rapid City and Sioux Falls. If you have to go, adjust your travel plans to avoid driving during the storm.

“There are still a lot of questions about the timing and direction of this storm, but for now we encourage people going anywhere in western South Dakota to be at their place of destination by Tuesday night,” he says. “For those headed elsewhere in South Dakota, you should get to your destination by sometime Wednesday afternoon. The current forecast indicates travel will likely be very difficult by Thursday morning.”

Department of Transportation Operations Director Greg Fuller says crews are preparing now to keep highways open as much as possible.

“Motorists need to keep updated with latest weather and road conditions,” he says. “This appears to be a fast-moving storm that could quickly impact roads and driving conditions.”

Drivers are reminded to check safetravelusa.com/sd
or call 5-1-1 before they begin their trip. Motorists also are urged to take the following steps:

• Check safetravelusa.com/sd or call 5-1-1 to check road conditions.
• Wear your seatbelt
• Travel during the day
• Drive with your headlights on (not daytime running lights) so you can be seen by other motorists from the front and rear
• Don’t use cruise control on icy or snow-covered roads
• Use highly traveled roads and highways
• Keep family and friends informed of your travel schedule and route
• Keep a winter weather survival kit in your car. The kit should include blankets, warm clothing, water, energy bars, a flashlight, a distress flag, a shovel and matches
• Travel with a charged cell phone, but don’t rely on it to get you out of a bad situation
• Change travel plans as weather conditions warrant

If you do get stranded:

• Stay in your vehicle
• Run the engine and heater about 10 minutes an hour to stay warm
• When the engine is running, open a window slightly to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Periodically clearing snow from the exhaust pipe will also help prevent carbon monoxide buildup
• When it’s dark outside, turn on the interior light so rescuers can see you
• Put up a distress flag, or spread a large colored cloth on the ground to attract attention from rescuers

For those stuck at home, do check on elderly family and neighbors from time to time to ensure they are safe and warm, especially if there are power outages.