A winter storm with strong winds dropped as much as 12 inches of snow Sunday in parts of the Black Hills, but the area escaped the blizzard conditions that tormented most of the state.
Jeff Johnson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said the Rapid City area can thank the Black Hills for missing the brunt of Sunday’s storm.
"Many times Rapid City and the areas near it are protected by the hills," Johnson said Sunday.
The plains and majority of the central and eastern portion of the state were pounded by snow and blowing snow from high winds with gusts reaching up to 50 miles-per-hour.
The heaviest snow totals were reported in the Northern Hills. Terry Peak ski resort received 8 to 10 inches of snow and Ski Mystic Deer Mountain reported 11 inches. Both of the ski resorts reported good turnouts on Sunday. A foot of snow was also reported near Lead.
In Rapid City, the NWS estimated that less than two inches of snow was recorded in downtown Rapid City although it was difficult to measure due to the windy conditions, meteorologist Katie Pejorlie said.
The snowy and windy conditions led the South Dakota Department of Transportation to close Interstate 90 from Wall to Sioux Falls and Interstate 29 from Sioux Falls to the North Dakota border. In North Dakota, I-29 was closed from the border to Fargo.
No-travel advisories, however, were issued Sunday afternoon for most highways in south central, central and northeast South Dakota.
The road closure helped keep the number of vehicle accidents and injuries to a minimum, said Lieutenant Rick Miller with the South Dakota Highway Patrol.
Miller said as of early Sunday, the highway patrol had responded to only 11 injury crashes, eight non-injury accidents, and 15 motorists who needed assistance in western South Dakota. None of the injuries were life-threatening.
Miller said the number of accidents in the western part of the state were about the same as with any other winter storm.
"Normally, it’s about the same thing," said Miller. "Drivers are overdriving road conditions by going too fast or not anticipating the slick roads or not giving themselves enough time to get from point A to point B."
Conditions were expected to gradually improve Sunday night with the winds subsiding and the snow ending by this morning.