Pierre and Fort Pierre, so far, have racked up the most snowfall — 10 inches — during the blizzard now raging across most of the state.
National Weather Service Meteorologist Kari Fleegle said wind gusts up to 57 mph have complicated measuring snowfall and as of 9:30 a.m. were restricting visibility to about a half-mile. Snow had been tapering off but the winds, Fleegle said, were going to keep blowing throughout the day. Pierre and Fort Pierre were expected to remain under a blizzard warning until 1 a.m. central time Friday, March 15.
“The main threat is the high winds,” Fleegle said.
Almost all of South Dakota was under a Blizzard warning Thursday morning, barring a few counties in the southeast corner of the state, the Black Hills and Harding County. The winds, Fleegle said, were expected to die down through the night tonight and by mid-day Friday temperatures would rise to the mid 30s.
High temperatures were predicted to remain in the mid-30s Through Monday, March 18, Fleegle said. No more rain or snow are expected for about seven days, she said.
Around 12:30, Chief Deputy Greg Swanson the Stanley County Sheriff’s Office advised all residents to stay put and “hunker down,” even as the storm seems to be dispersing. “It’s stopped snowing, but it’s still blowing,” Swanson said.
Anyone on the roads is potentially endangering themselves and emergency responders, Swanson said. While he encouraged those with medical emergencies to call 911, he said that those stranded in their cars should try and refrain from calling the emergency line. “If you’re stuck in your vehicle, just stay put… call someone and let them know where you are,” Swanson said.
All Avera Group medical clinics have been closed today due to the poor weather conditions. No Urgent Care or other after-hours services will be available, Avera spokesperson Sigrid Wald said. Radiation treatments have likewise been postponed. Avera clinics will resume normal operational hours tomorrow, Friday March 15, Wald said.
St. Mary’s Hospital, including the emergency room, remains open and fully functional today.
The weather is not expected to affect this weekend’s St. Patrick’s Day festivities. “The parade is on,” Carol Axtman of the Irish Club of central South Dakota said. “It might be a little cold, but we’ve been in St. Patrick’s Days that have been a little cold before.” This year the parade will gather on Sunday March 17 in the parking lot of Georgia Morse Middle School, off Highland Avenue and Pleasant Drive. Step off is at 5:15 p.m.
The Lions Club Irish Stew & Irish Potato Soup Feed fundraiser will also go on as planned. Profits raised at the event will go to purchasing eyeglasses for Pierre and Fort Pierre residents in need. The fundraiser runs from 4:30 - 7 p.m. on Sunday, in American Legion Post 8 at the foot of Pierre Street.
Closures and announcements
All Avera Group medical clinics closed today due to weather
Avera Cancer Institute radiation treatments have been postponed due to the weather.
No urgent care or after-hours clinics open tonight after 5 p.m.
All clinics resume normal business hours on Friday
Stanley County: “‘No Travel’ advisory present throughout the community,” Public Works Director Rick Hahn said.
Snow routes were (mostly) cleared last night, but everything else has to wait.
For the moment, state plows have left Fort Pierre until the wind dies down; “They were fighting a losing battle,” Hahn said.
Stanley County, Hughes County, Fort Pierre, Pierre, and all SD state offices remain closed today. They should resume normal business hours on Friday.
Pierre PD said emergency responders are on duty, but would not comment on how many.
National Weather Service: Snowfall trailing off by early this afternoon, wind gusts and snow drift will keep visibility low until tonight. travel conditions remain “difficult to impossible” through much of central South Dakota, the weather service said.
“We had a really strong low pressure system on the east side of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado… that’s what’s been driving some of the high winds we’ve been seeing,” meteorologist Steve Fleegel said.
“Snow will stop falling in early afternoon,” he added.
Weather will be nicer tomorrow, and drier for the rest of the week. There is a possibility of light snow on Friday
The next few weeks will be warmer, drier than this week. “We’ll be trending toward Spring over the next few weeks” - Steve Fleegel