Officials urge caution as state braces for late-winter storm

PIERRE, S.D. (Press Release) – Winter is not yet finished with South Dakota as the state braces for another storm scheduled to sweep through the state this week.

A late-winter storm, featuring two feet of snow in some places, freezing rain, high winds and blizzard conditions, is expected to make its presence felt starting Tuesday night. Residents will experience the storm’s heaviest impact on Wednesday and Thursday. The storm is expected to leave the state Friday.

Travel will be hindered throughout most of South Dakota. State Department of Public Safety Cabinet Secretary Craig Price says people should start to adjust their travel plans now.

“Even though it is April, this has the potential to be a dangerous storm,” he says. “We encourage people to adjust their travel plans. Travel will be very tough through a good portion of the state Wednesday and most of the state on Thursday.”

Those staying at home are encouraged to make sure they have enough supplies on hand, including needed medication. Citizens also are urged to check on elderly neighbors, pets and livestock.

Department of Transportation Cabinet Secretary Darin Bergquist says crews are preparing now to keep highways open as much as possible.

“Motorists need to keep updated with the latest weather and road conditions,” he says. “This storm will impact road conditions.”

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

  • Check 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