Schools, government offices and Regional Health facilities will be closed Wednesday in preparation for a storm that could bring as much as 2 feet of snow to parts of the region.
"The fire department, the police department, the sheriff's office have all been working together, and we will be working with emergency management," Rapid City Police Chief Karl Jegeris said at a Tuesday afternoon press conference. "We will be staffing the [Emergency Operations Center] here on a 24-hour basis starting tomorrow morning to ensure we meet the public safety needs of Rapid City and Pennington County."
Rapid City Area Schools will be closed Wednesday, and all school-related activities are canceled. Also closed are all Pennington County and Rapid City administration offices, the Rapid Transit system, 7th Circuit Courts and the 24-7 Sobriety Program.
Mayor Steve Allender said the landfill will be closed Wednesday and Thursday and garbage pickup will be suspended both days. Allender said the city hopes to resume those services Friday.
City, county and school officials announced the closures in the joint press conference. They said they will determine by noon Wednesday whether schools, city and county offices will re-open Thursday or remain closed another day.
Meade County offices will also be closed Wednesday.
The storm could dump between 12 and 15 inches of snow on Rapid City alone, said National Weather Service Meteorologist Susan Sanders. Lead, Deadwood and other Northern Hills communities could see up to 2 feet of snow, according to the forecast.
Areas to the south and east of Rapid City, such as Pine Ridge and Kadoka, could see 20 inches.
Snow will begin to fall early Wednesday morning and continue into Thursday afternoon. Gusts of up to 60 miles per hour, Sanders said, could create blowing snow conditions and blizzard conditions.
The Rapid City Fire Department’s military-grade, all-terrain carrier vehicle will be staffed and in position Wednesday at Fire Station One. The department acquired the vehicle, a Hagglunds Bandvagn 206, following Winter Storm Atlas in 2013.
Two of the fire department’s wildland response vehicles are being outfitted with structural firefighting equipment for possible urban deployment. Department Public Information Officer Jim Bussell said the vehicles have higher ground clearance than typical trucks.
Allender said that the city has put several private contractors on notice for assistance with downtown snow removal. The storm has "real potential," he said, to drain the $1.8 million that is budgeted for snow removal.
A city Legal and Finance committee meeting scheduled for Wednesday afternoon is cancelled. Its agenda will now be up for a vote during Monday's council meeting without committee recommendations.
Teams participating in the state AA high school boys' and girls' basketball tournaments in Rapid City this week are expected to be here, said School Public Information Manager Katy Urban. For now, she said, the tournament will proceed as scheduled. The opening round is set for Thursday.
Officials are urging businesses to consider closing for the day or reducing staffing to prevent traffic accidents.
The Pennington County Emergency Services office issued a public announcement Tuesday urging residents to stock up on 72 hours' worth of food, water and household supplies.
Officials encouraged residents to follow @dak_storm on Twitter, which they created to share developments on the blizzard. Updates will also be shared on https://sodakwinterstorm2019.blogspot.com/
Other cancellations and closures the Rapid City Journal was made aware of are as follows:
- Rapid City Airport
- A meeting of the Pennington County Fire Service Board scheduled for Wednesday evening has been canceled;
- The Chadron State College campus will be closed on Wednesday and Thursday. The dining hall will be open those days from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and the C-Store in High Rise will be open from 8 p.m. to midnight;
- The Substance Abuse and Effects on the Brain training session scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday and hosted by Youth and Family Services has been canceled.
- City of Box Elder is closed.
- Black Hills State University campus is closed, and classes in Spearfish and Rapid City are canceled
- Western Dakota Technical Institute's campus is closed
- Black Hills Federal Credit Union has closed all West River member services centers today. That includes their locations in Rapid City, Spearfish, Sturgis, Custer, Hot Springs, Wall and Eagle Butte.