February 27 2012

Major Winter Storm to Impact State through Wednesday

Posted by Lucy

Major Winter Storm to Impact State through Wednesday

PIERRE, S.D. – A major winter storm forecast to bring heavy snow and strong wind across much of South Dakota could hamper travel from early Tuesday through late Wednesday.

State Public Safety and Transportation officials urge South Dakotans to pay attention to the timing and track of the storm and to consider delaying or altering travel plans until the worst of the snow and wind has passed.

“This appears to be a significant winter storm,’’ said Public Safety Secretary Trevor Jones. “The combination of heavy snow and strong wind will make travel very difficult at best for the next couple of days. If you can delay travel plans, we really encourage you to do so. Pay attention to the weather and play it safe, please.’’

The National Weather Service has issued a blizzard watch for much of north central and northeast South Dakota and a winter storm warning for a portion of east-central South Dakota. The rest of the state is under a winter weather advisory or watch. Snowfall amounts could reach six to 16 inches or more in some areas of the northeast, and winds are expected to be 30 mph to 40 mph at times. Travelers are reminded that, during the storm period, DOT crews will plow until early evening hours as conditions allow. After that, winter maintenance will be suspended and will resume about 5 a.m. the next morning, weather permitting.

“Our crews will do all we can to keep the highways safe to travel, but people also need to take responsibility for making safe choices for themselves and their loved ones,’’ Transportation Secretary Darin Bergquist said.

The South Dakota Departments of Public Safety and Transportation remind people who must travel in affected areas of South Dakota to slow down and drive with extreme caution. Officials also encourage motorists to visit http://www.safetraveulusa.com/sd or call 511 to check the latest road conditions and travel advisories before heading out. 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 (not daytime running lights) so you can be seen by other motorists from the front and rear

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 in your vehicle

Run the engine and heater about 10 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 the 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

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