Significant snow is on the way: who will see snow and how much will fall?
RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - It is a storm we have been talking about since last week and watching very closely. Initially, this storm looked to have all of Wyoming and South Dakota under its bullseye, but over the past few days, the anticipated storm track has shifted north, pushing the majority of snow into Montana and North Dakota. While we miss out on the heaviest of snow, there’s still significant snow expected to fall for areas north and west of Rapid City.
It is important to note that there is still time for the storm to shift farther north, or back a little to the south. The past few model outputs have continued to show a northerly push. While a southerly shift is possible, it is unlikely that it will be enough to bring significant snow to Rapid City.
Confidence has grown significantly over the past 24 hours with the storm track aligning between models and moisture content coming into more of an agreement. I’d say confidence is moderate right now. I wouldn’t put it higher than that due to the possibility of this storm track shifting. Plus, the storm is still over the Pacific Ocean, therefore it has not been adequately sampled by sensors. This helps model data use accurate data and develop a better understanding of where the storm will go and how much moisture will be available.
A Winter Storm Watch is in effect for far northern Wyoming, the northern Black Hills, northwest South Dakota and for much of Montana and North Dakota. These will likely receive an upgrade at some point Sunday night or Monday morning. Winter Storm Warnings seem to be the likely upgrade, but some Blizzard Warnings cannot be ruled out. Areas on the southern end of the accumulating snow will mostly likely receive a Winter Weather Advisory.
Significant impacts are expected from this storm system. Heavy snow and strong winds will reduce visibility and create blizzard-like conditions. Treacherous driving conditions are expected, too. Some spots may even be impossible to get around due to the blowing and drifting of snow. For the ranchers out there, the combination of cold air, strong winds and snow will pose a significant threat to young livestock. Plan accordingly.
Snow will move into the area Monday night and continue through Tuesday, where the heaviest snow is expected to fall and accumulate. Snow will taper off Tuesday night and Wednesday, though some snow showers could still linger around the hills, northeast Wyoming and northwest South Dakota. The heaviest snow will be from Sheridan to the northern Black Hills along highway 212 in South Dakota and areas north. Snow showers will fall for much of the area, but accumulations drop off drastically the farther south you go.
This is the Winter Storm Severity Index and it shows where the highest impacts are expected with this storm. The worst of it looks to be in southwest North Dakota, near Bismarck. Major impacts will be felt from far northwest South Dakota into Montana, with moderate impacts for many locations within the Winter Storm Watch. Rapid City and areas south/east will likely face minimal impacts from this storm system.
Here’s a look at our first call for snow totals. These numbers will likely change over the next 24 hours or so, depending on how the storm shifts going forward. Up to a foot is looking likely for northwest South Dakota, with those right along the North Dakota state line seeing more than a foot, along with Ekalaka. Lesser amounts, though still significant, are expected down into the northern Black Hills and into the northeast Wyoming plains.
There are plus signs on much of the northerly totals due to the continuing uncertainty when it comes to the storm track. If this storm does indeed track a little farther south, the numbers will need to be adjusted.
While the storm does look to miss much of our area, it is still going to be impacting locations that are facing some of the worst drought conditions. This is great news for them! We will take the moisture and hope that it puts a nice dent in the future drought outlooks. However the drought will continue and eventually worsen for those who aren’t expected to pick up much snow from this storm.
There’s still hope, as we still have the rest of April, our second snowiest month, and May, our wettest month in general, to bring us the moisture needed. Stay tuned for further updates regarding this storm system by watching our newscasts, checking our Facebook, Twitter, weather app and website.
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