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Snowy Weekend Wraps Up

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Snow continues to be the big story when it comes to weather in South Dakota this weekend as many locations along and north of U.S. Highway 14 saw blizzard conditions through much of the afternoon and evening. Even as I update this blog, snow continues to fall over NE South Dakota reducing visibilities to less than a mile and even less than a quarter of a mile at times.

These blizzard conditions, as expected, caused a major inconvenience for these locations through the afternoon and evening hours on Saturday. As the band of heavy snowfall slowly migrated eastward through the James River Valley, travel became almost impossible along many South Dakota highways between Aberdeen and Huron.

Here’s a look at a radar screen capture taken around 4 p.m. Saturday afternoon followed by several highway snapshots from various locations. Some of the heaviest snowfall fell just west of Huron in Beadle County along U.S. Highway 14 near Wolsey where, as you can see in one of these images, visibility was down to almost nothing.

Just south of there, Mitchell picked up less than an inch and as you can see in the image below; the main travel issue along I-90 in Mitchell was the slick roadways.

By the time the snapshot was taken in Miranda, most of the heaviest snowfall had already moved off to the east, but at the same time; Watertown and Brandt along I-29 were just now bracing for several hours of blizzard conditions on top of the snow that fell on Friday.

Of course, once darkness fell on these locations; traveling became that much more difficult. Some of the worst conditions after sunset were right along I-29 from the hills near Sisseton southward toward Brookings. Here’s a look at a radar screen capture taken around 8:30 p.m. as some of the heaviest snowfall had moved east of the James River Valley.

As you can see, the story was pretty much the same in all of these pictures from Summit in Grant County all the way down to Brookings. You just couldn’t see anything. Interestingly enough, though; when you go back and compare the two radar images shown here; there were some places that never seemed to catch a break.

For hours, this band of snowfall that was oriented north and south curved back to the north and west along the North Dakota border. As you can see in this next image, visibilities along U.S. 281 near Frederick made it pretty much impossible to travel. In fact, as I turn and look at the current radar image; it’s still snowing in this same exact location although most of the snowfall that was falling along I-29 has moved off into SW Minnesota. Here’s a radar screen capture taken shortly after 11 p.m. as I type this summary.

As you can imagine, the places that saw the most snowfall were right along S.D. Highway 10 that runs parallel with the North Dakota border through Sisseton, Aberdeen, and Mobridge. As you gradually go southward, those snowfall totals drop off little by little. Here’s a look at snowfall totals observed as of 11 p.m. Saturday evening. I have also included a map to help reference the locations listed here.

Of course, these totals will likely go up since many of these locations are still seeing snow at this moment. In fact, notice in the previous radar image that another line of lighter snowfall has developed just west of the Missouri River. This is all on the backside of the area of low pressure, which will continue to move eastward.

As the snow begins to taper off throughout the day on Sunday, you’ll notice that the blizzard warnings issued earlier on Saturday will not likely be lifted until later in the day on Sunday—long after the last flakes have fallen in our region. Here’s a graphic highlighting the counties under blizzard warnings.

You may be wondering why these warnings will remain in effect through the day when most of the heaviest snowfall has moved out of the area. Well, in these next three images, you can see why. Throughout the day on Sunday, winds are expected to pick up. From the looks of these images shown below, we could see winds between 15 and 25 mph along with strong gusts of 35 to 40 mph. Of course, we’ve experienced much stronger winds in this part of the country; but with that much snow staying on the ground, you can get what we call “ground blizzards” where blowing snow from days before reduce visibilities just as low as they would if it were snowing at that moment.




To add to that inconvenience, it’s going to be ridiculously cold. In fact, Sunday’s high temperatures will likely be felt well before sunrise, as the cold front associated with this system will be passing through during the day dropping temperatures hour by hour. By sunset, many of us will already be well into the single digits. Once the sun has set, we’ll see an even deeper drop in temperatures as skies clear, winds calm down, and a colder air mass begins to dominate our entire region. Yep… We’re about to drop below zero for the first time this winter. Here’s a look at what our models are showing for overnight lows Sunday night into Monday morning.

If that made the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, here’s another little interesting weather tidbit. These models do not take into account the fact that there is snow already covering the ground. Therefore, any heat we do manage to pick up during the day on Sunday will only be radiated back out into the atmosphere by the snow pack. There is a very good possibility that these models are slightly overshooting our overnight lows by a couple of degrees.

As for the long term, things look much more tranquil over the next few days. That’s good news for all of us, especially since that’ll give us a little extra time to watch another system that may be passing through by next weekend.

As always, we will keep you updated here at KDLT and right here on KDLT.com; so stay tuned and stay warm!
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