The first winter storm of the season is tracking across South Dakota and into Minnesota.
The storm brought a winter weather advisory to parts of the west, a winter storm warning in Sioux Falls and a blizzard warning to the northeast corner of the state.
Traffic accidents and no travel advisories are delaying motorists. One accident left a semi-trailer blocking northbound traffic on I-29 near the Vermillion exit.
The storm has left low visibility and near white out conditions in some areas. Turner County officials pulled their plows off the road amid safety concerns in the low visibility and blizzard conditions.
Kent Austin is the highway superintendent for Turner County.
“We had three trucks in the ditch at one time they could not see to drive or to even plow the roads and we got a little worried about public safety as far as ourselves being on the road and the public being on the road so we advise no travel and pulled our trucks in until the wind goes down,” says Austin.
National Weather Service officials in Sioux Falls say the blustery wind gusts should decrease this evening. Austin says he expects the plows to be back on the road by then.
Officials say blowing snow and blizzard like conditions may persist in the northeast part of the state throughout Friday. They urge motorists to take precaution or delay travel.
Captain Jason Husby is with the South Dakota Highway Patrol. He says road conditions remain dangerous in many locations.
“The highway patrol has been very busy with vehicles in the ditch, other crashes, we’ve had several semis slide off the road or slide partially off the road blocking traffic so travel if travel is absolutely necessary give yourself plenty of time and reduce those speeds down on the interstate right now cars are travelling about 20 to 40 miles an hour and with the visibility in the roads that’s all the faster you can go,” says Husby.
Husby says the warm ground temperatures are actually making road conditions worse.
“With the heavy winds what’s happening is it’s pushing that really wet, heavy snow onto the roadway, kind of half re-freezing it and making it into slush, so even as the DOT snow plows are out working, getting that snow off, just a very short time later the roads are becoming slick and slushy all over again,” says Husby.
The storm left about three inches of snow on Rapid City where some streets remain icy. Sioux Falls has about five inches of snow on the ground. The National Weather Service in Sioux Falls predicts an end to the wind by Friday evening.
Saturday’s forecast looks to be relatively wind-free and sunny for most of the state, though temperatures will remain low.