The weather is expected to take a 180-degree turn with light winds, sunny skies and warm temperatures today and through the weekend after Wednesday's bomb cyclone blizzard roared through western South Dakota, creating whiteouts, leaving icy roads and towering snow drifts in some areas.
There will be "a lot of sunshine" and "much less wind" in Rapid City and throughout the region, Jeff Johnson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Rapid City, said Thursday afternoon.
Rapid City Regional Airport resumed service at 4 p.m. Thursday.
The Rapid City school district will remain closed today. Rapid City offices, public transit, landfill, trash and the downtown library will be open.
Johnson said the temperatures could climb into the 40s by Sunday, which will lead to other concerns. “We'll have to keep an eye" on possible flooding, he said.
The blizzard brought winds and gusts ranging from 50 to 60 miles per hour throughout the region. Rapid City recorded the strongest gust of 70 mph at 5 a.m. Thursday, Johnson said.
Johnson said the storm dumped five inches of snow in downtown Rapid City. The Southern Hills received the least snow, with Hot Springs recording two inches.
Kadoka received the most snow in the region with 18.3 inches as of 7 a.m. Thursday, Johnson said. With 16 inches, the Deerfield Reservoir, 20 miles west of Hill City, received the most snow in the Black Hills. The Northern Hills also saw snow totals of 13 inches in Lead and up to eight inches in Spearfish.
The town of Pine Ridge had recorded five inches of snow as of 9:30 a.m. In addition to snow drifts, the Pine Ridge Reservation was also dealing with flooding, according to the Oglala Sioux Tribe’s Emergency Management department.
Snowdrifts up to 10-feet tall in Mission prevented trucks from reaching a volunteer firefighter's home that caught fire early Thursday morning.
First responders said Pennington County residents mostly listened to warnings not to drive Wednesday.
It was "a lot slower than we anticipated," said Ryan Stillman, maintenance officer for Pennington County Search and Rescue. He said the team went out a few times to help stranded motorists push their vehicles back onto a drivable surface. Rescuers got around using a snow cat, a pickup truck with chains on the tires, and an SUV with tracks instead of wheels.
It was a "pretty quiet night," said Jim Bussell, spokesman for the Rapid City Fire Department. He said most calls were related to medical needs, but the storm did make it harder to get to patients.
To reach them, Bussell said, the department relied on high-clearance four-wheel drive vehicles with tire chains. The department also used the Hägglunds Bandvagn 206, a tracked all-terrain Swedish military vehicle that it purchased for $95,000 after Winter Storm Atlas.
The Bandvagn picked up a patient in Box Elder where the snow was too high for an ambulance, Bussell said. It also picked up stranded drivers.