Slushy mess slows Black Hills
By The Associated Press
Published: Sunday, Oct. 6, 2013, 8:45 p.m.
RAPID CITY, S.D. — Residents in the Black Hills were navigating through a sloppy mess on Sunday when warmer temperatures began melting record-setting snowfall, leaving standing water on plowed roads rather than making its way through drainage systems.
Law enforcement officials shifted their focus to recovery when they caught up with a backlog of emergency calls from the weekend storm that dumped 4 feet of snow near Deadwood and 3.5 feet near Lead. No fatalities were reported as a result of the bad weather.
“We're even Steven. We don't have 911 calls holding at this point,” Rapid City-Pennington County emergency manager Dustin Willett said. “Most of our life safety missions have been completed, and as we start out today, it's going to move to snow removal, debris removal and power restoration.”
An estimated 5,000 people in the county were without power, Willett said, down from more than 25,000 in the area on Saturday.
Temperatures rose several degrees on Sunday, which led some people to venture out even though many roads had not been plowed. Some motorists were still getting stuck and impeding recovery efforts, Rapid City spokeswoman Tara Heupel said.
Willett said the melt from the “impressive drifts and ridiculous amounts of snow” was causing a “slushy watery quagmire,” partly because the snow buildup on plowed highways was making channels and making it difficult for the drainage system to work normally. However, Rapid Creek wasn't expected to flood.
“Is the creek going to be up? Absolutely. Is the creek going to be in an action stage or flood stage? Probably not,” Willett said.
Dave Barber, National Weather Service meteorologist in Rapid City, said most flooding problems from snowmelt occur when the ground is frozen — that isn't the case with this storm.
“In this part of the state, it's been not real dry but relatively dry,” he said. “So, stock dams and small ponds are, if not dry, at least low and have capacity to absorb a good bit of water that does run off.”
Reports of 20 or more inches of snow were common throughout the Black Hills. Barber said the 21½ inches in Rapid City were a record for a 24-hour period in October and for the entire month.
“There was a lot of water vapor present on the east side of the system that got pulled around as the storm developed,” Barber said. “It slowed down and did so in the right spot for western South Dakota to get clobbered.”
Authorities used snowmobiles to help rescue some motorists Saturday. The storm closed many highways, including Interstate 90, which reopened Sunday after workers spent most of the day clearing it from Murdo to the Wyoming border.
“At least we're beyond the phase where as soon as the plows go through, the road gets closed behind them because of blowing snow,” Barber said. “That's what they were fighting Saturday, at least early in the day.”
Wind gusts of more than 70 mph were reported around the Rapid City area, resulting in downed trees and branches. City officials on Sunday told residents to leave tree branches and debris on their property until drop-off sites could be prepared.
The Red Cross had 35 people at a shelter in a Rapid City high school Saturday night, including four residents who were displaced by a house fire, said Michelle Lewis, Red Cross spokeswoman. Volunteers from South Dakota and North Dakota were scheduled to arrive Monday with supplies and equipment, she said.
Sunday is expected to be sunny with his in the 40s — perhaps low 50s — in most of the Black Hills region.
“If there wasn't a whole lot of snow on the ground it would be an absolutely beautiful Sunday,” Willett said.
Show commenting policy
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.
- ‘Patriots’ back Nevada rancher; Reid labels them ‘domestic terrorists’
- IRS, other agencies award contracts to license plate tracking company
- Health care law enrollee passwords at risk for Heartbleed Internet security flaw, feds warn
- Del Taco customers mistakenly charged thousands for fast-food meals
- Fox fires exec who used email to plan aid
- Drug crime reclassification to help ex-cons get vote rights
- First date in New Jersey ends with him pilfering her TV and Yorkshire terrier
- Ohio couple married for 70 years dies just 15 hours apart
- Automaker GM’s wait on Saturn Ion safety recall took years
- Mauling puts bears back on firing line in Central Florida
- Washington’s snowy owl recovers from apparent bus crash, returns to wild