Strong winds will continue throughout the region after Wednesday’s bomb cyclone blizzard brought high winds and snow that created dangerous conditions with icy roads, massive snow drifts and poor visibility.
No new snow is expected in the Rapid City area but strong winds will continue to cause snow drifts, said Keith Sherburn, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Rapid City, said Thursday morning.
Snow is still falling in south-central parts of the state with “pretty rough” blizzard conditions in Mission and Winner, Sherburn said.
On Friday, the weather will “finally break out of these blizzard force winds” and temperatures will reach the low 40s, he said. The temperature will continue to rise throughout the weekend.
While dry weather and typical or even above-average temperatures are expected during the next few weeks, Sherburn said, “we can never rule out getting a late season storm even in April.”
Rapid City schools, government offices, public transportation, libraries, and the airport remain closed Thursday. Trash pickup is also on hold. Pennington County offices, along with the court and 24/7 Sobriety Program, are closed.
The Rapid City Street Department has 30 of its vehicles and 15 contract vehicles plowing snow. Although Pennington County’s no-travel advisory was lifted around 11:50 a.m., officials encouraged people to stay off the roads if they can since some roads are still impassible.
Interstate 90 is open from Rapid City to the Wyoming border despite continuing high winds and icy roads. The interstate remains closed from Rapid City at Exit 260 east to Oacoma/Chamberlain.
Veterans Affairs offices are open. All Black Hills National Forest offices are closed besides the Hell Canyon Ranger District offices in Custer and Newcastle, Wyo.
Wednesday’s storm dropped five inches of snow in downtown Rapid City, Sherburn said. The Southern Hills received the least amount of snow, with Hot Springs recording two inches.
With 16 inches, the Deerfield Reservoir, 20 miles west of Hill City, received the most snow in the Black Hills, Sherburn said. The Northern Hills also saw high snow totals with 13.5 inches in Lead and up to eight inches in Spearfish.
Data from the Pine Ridge Reservation hasn’t come in yet but Sherburn said he expects 12 to 18 inches fell since neighboring areas in South Dakota and Nebraska saw similar amounts.
In addition to snow drifts, the reservation is also seeing flooding, according to the Oglala Sioux Tribe’s Emergency Management department.
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 snowcat, 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 and not problems caused by the storm. But the storm did make it harder to get to patients.
To reach patients, 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 since the snow was too high for an ambulance, Bussell said. It also picked up stranded drivers and brought them to a safe place.