Weather, terrain make search for Serenity tough

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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA TV) -- The outdoor search for Serenity was on hold Thursday as authorities braced for yet another weather set back to effort to find the 9-nine-year-old girl who went missing in the Black Hills on Super Bowl Sunday.

The parking lot in front of the Black Hills Children's Home was quiet but not searchers don't want to be out looking for Serenity. It was quiet because the conditions have been very difficult.

As Pennington County Sheriff put it earlier this week, "The weather has not been our friend on the search."

The situation deteriorated the seemingly the moment Serenity walked off at 10:45 a.m. on Feb. 3.

"At 11 o'clock, temperatures were in the 20s, but by 12 o'clock they'd already dropped into the teens," said meteorologist Mike Modrick. "And by the time the sun went down the temperatures were in the single digits so they dropped all through the day."

Added Thom: "It got down close to zero that night when she first went missing and it started to snow and since then we've had additional snow. So that has complicated the search. It makes it more difficult for the searchers and in particular it makes it more difficult for the K-9s."

Specialty dogs called in from a three state-region couldn't find her in part because the severe cold tamps down any scents they might pick up. It also makes it tough on their sinuses and feet.

And let's not forget the landscape.

It's extremely rough terrain.

With lots and lots of places a small child might curl up in.

Searchers we've spoken with say its treacherous out there, especially in the snow.

And that element looks like it's only going to get worse.

"Well now what we have coming in is we have two days, Friday and Saturday -- and maybe even Sunday --there will be some fresh snowfall," said Modrick. "And now it's going to stay cold again and it's going to stay cold through the rest of February and probably not going to get some sustained days with above freezing temperatures until early March."

The word from the Pennington County Sheriff's office Thursday evening was that, while investigators keep working on leads, the outdoor search for Serenity will stay on hold until the weather breaks.