NORTHERN HILLS — With old man winter lurking just around the corner, the Northern Black Hills will be getting a taste of his wintery wrath this weekend.
“We think (the winter storm system is) going to move into the Northern Hills on Saturday,” explained Melissa Smith, meteorologist/hydrologist for the National Weather Service in Rapid City. “Maybe a little bit of snow (will) be around in the morning but the bulk of the snow is really going to start in the afternoon on Saturday.”
Smith said the snow looks to continue falling throughout Saturday night and ending Sunday morning with accumulation reaching between five to eight inches in some of the higher elevations of the Hills.
“There will be a little bit of wind with it …breezy, but not overly windy considering it’s South Dakota,” she said with a laugh. “We’re looking at winds probably within the 15 to 25 mile per hour range.”
While eight inches of snow and 25 mile an hour winds are nothing to sneeze at, Smith said what folks really need to be prepared for this weekend will be the frigid temperatures the weather will bring.
“After this system moves through its going to bring some very cold temperatures with it,” she cautioned. “Highs on Sunday are only going to be in the mid teens and then highs Sunday night are going to get down to around zero.”
If temps drop as predicted, Smith said we could be looking at a record breaking weekend.
“We’re looking at record low temperatures, we’re looking at our high temperatures to be at record low values,” she said.
The lowest recorded high temperature for Spearfish on Oct. 24 was set in 1976 at 30 degrees; the record lowest high temperature for Oct. 25 was set in 1997 at 25 degrees; and the lowest recorded low for Oct. 25 was set in 1919 at 10 degrees.
“The arctic air is coiming into the Northern Plains from Canada and the Acrtic area and with the jet stream being farther to our south, we’re getting the cold air into our region,” Smith explained.
With frigid arctic temperatures working their way down to the Black Hills, various methods of keeping warm will be applied as folks cozy up next to roaring fires and space heaters.
“We want to make sure that their heating systems are ready to go, be careful burning any fires or candles, and make sure your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors are working,” Smith recommended. “And also have a winter weather safety kit in your car … just in case you get stranded while traveling.”
The South Dakota Office of Emergency Management has assembled a winter weather preparedness guide with several helpful tips for staying safe while traveling during the winter months.
“Many winter deaths and injuries can be attributed to venturing away from their vehicle,” the guide states. “To avoid this, you should stay inside your vehicle and wait for help.”
The guide suggests keeping your gas tank near full, adjusting your speed to the conditions and increase following distances, and remain constantly aware of your location and situation.
The guide also includes winter fire safety, protecting your pets, and getting ready for school.
For a complete list of tips and guidelines visit www.dps.sd.gov/emergency-services/emergency-management/preparedness.
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