Share This Page

North, South Dakota hammered by 1st snowstorm of season

| Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016, 10:51 p.m.
Postal carrier Charlotte Harding makes her way along Avenue C West in Bismarck, N.D., Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016, during the second day of a winter storm in central North Dakota. 'It's not too cold but the snow is just thick,' Harding said.

The first widespread winter storm to sweep the Dakotas this season unleashed heavy snow and howling winds from the Black Hills to Bismarck on Tuesday, creating whiteout conditions and forcing the closure of a stretch of Interstate 90.

The late-November storm caps an unusually warm and mild weather month in most of North and South Dakota, two states in the upper Midwest that normally see multiple snowfalls by Thanksgiving Day, according to National Weather Service meteorologists.

An earlier storm struck a corner of the eastern Dakotas and western Minnesota nearly two weeks ago, but that system was less powerful and smaller in scale than Tuesday's blast of snow and gale-force wind.

“This storm is hitting western and central North Dakota hard with snow,” with accumulations ranging from 10 to 20 inches across the entire region, said NWS meteorologist Janine Vining in Bismarck, the state capital.

No-travel advisories were posted for wide sections of North and South Dakota, state officials said.

Meanwhile, remote sensors measured nearly 2 feet of snowfall in some parts of the Black Hills in South Dakota, according to NWS meteorologist Jeff Johnson in Rapid City.

Among areas hardest hit was a swath of southwestern South Dakota around the Black Hills, where severe blizzard conditions prompted authorities to close a 45-mile stretch of I-90 between the town of Spearfish and Rapid City, the state's second-largest urban area. The highway later was reopened between Rapid City and Piedmont.

Near-zero visibility, drifting snow and icy road surfaces led to numerous jackknifed tractor-trailers and vehicle crashes, one of them involving a hazardous materials spill, said Kristi Sandal, a South Dakota state transportation department spokeswoman.

“It becomes a domino effect,” she said. “It's better to close down the road.”

No serious injuries were reported, but conditions grew so dire that snowplow operations were suspended in some places.

Sustained wind gusts of 30 to 40 mph were common across the region, with gusts of 50 to 60 mph, according to the NWS. Wind-chill values were expected to plunge into the teens to 10 degrees below zero.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.