PIERRE, S.D. – South Dakota officials are closing Interstate 29 from Sioux Falls (I-90 junction) to Brookings effective immediately due to blizzard conditions. I-29 was closed at 3 p.m. CST from Brookings to the North Dakota border. I-29 is also closed from the South Dakota border to Canada in North Dakota. Officials with the state Departments of Transportation and Public Safety say white-out conditions with zero to near zero visibility, icy roads, as well as blowing and drifting snow are making safe travel almost impossible along the I-29 corridor and throughout most of the northeast and eastern part of the state. Motorists are finding travel difficult to nearly impossible in some areas and are stopping on the roadway which creates safety concerns and increases the potential for serious accidents. Winter maintenance is being suspended on the closed portion of I-29 as well as highways with No Travel Advisories until conditions improve and it is safe for operations to resume. Motorists are being asked not to travel unless it is an emergency and are urged to visit safetravelusa.com/SD or to call 511 to check road conditions. Officials caution travelers to watch the weather and be prepared to change travel plans if necessary. Motorists are reminded that state law includes both criminal penalties and a civil fine of up to $1,000 for being on a closed highway. Motorists found traveling on I-29 between Sioux Falls and the North Dakota border after the road is closed will be in violation of state law. A stranded traveler could also be charged for the cost of a rescue effort, up to $10,000. If you must travel, the Departments of Transportation and Public Safety recommend travelers also take the following steps.
- Wear your seatbelt.
- Travel during the day.
- Drive with your headlights on so motorists behind you can see you.
- Use highly traveled roads and highways.
- Keep family and friends informed of your travel schedule and route.
- Call 511 or visit safetravelusa.com for road conditions.
- 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 with your vehicle.
- Run the engine and heater about ten 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 your 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.