Record Snow Pummels Sioux Falls

Jim Paulson, of Sioux Falls, shovels part of his driveway

What was supposed to be a few inches of snow on Friday turned into a deluge that blanketed parts of Sioux Falls in more than a foot of the white stuff and caused travel headaches throughout the day.

Fourteen inches of snow were reported in the southwest quadrant of the city by Friday evening, the National Weather Service office said. On the other side of town, Sioux Falls Regional Airport recorded 7.1 inches by 6 p.m.

The numbers shattered the previous snowfall record for Nov. 20, which was measured at 3.8 inches in 1975.

Other parts of southeast South Dakota had a variety of snowfall levels. In Harrisburg, one area measured a whopping 17 inches of snow, while Huron did not see a single flake, said National Weather Service meteorologist Kyle Weisser.

Actual snowfall blew past projected levels out of the water. On Wednesday, forecasters predicted less than one inch of snow for the Sioux Falls area. By Thursday, the prediction amount had risen to between one and three inches and again to four to six inches by Friday morning.

Sioux Falls’ unforeseen influx of snow is mostly due to a large snow band that was supposed to be concentrated between Sioux Falls and Sioux City but ended up drifting further north, according to the National Weather Service.

“That snow band shifted north about 10 to 15 miles (more) than we expected,” meteorologist Jennifer Hacker said. “Those extreme values are really difficult to forecast.”

Hacker said forecasters knew that the snowfall amounts could be extreme, but they went with the more conservative amounts because they seemed the most probable at the time.

“It was within a range of possibility, but we usually go with the most likely forecast,” she said.

A snow alert was issued for the city of Sioux Falls around 3:30 p.m. on Friday. Cars are not allowed to be parked on emergency snow routes, which crews had been clearing since 8 a.m. on Friday. What zone are you in? Click here

The plows began targeting Zone 3 on Friday after emergency routes were cleared. The east and westbound streets of Zone 2 will be cleared starting at 8 p.m., followed by the north and south streets at 8 a.m. Saturday. Finally, Zone 1 will be cleared starting on Sunday at 1 a.m. Cars will not be allowed to park along emergency routes between the hours of 1 a.m. and 6 a.m. on Sunday.

Uncleared roads posed a problem for drivers throughout the day on Friday. The Sioux Falls Police Department reported that between 7 a.m. and 12 p.m., 98 car crashes had been reported, including three rollovers. No major injuries were reported.

Other travel issues plagued the region because of the snow. A handful of flights arriving in and departing from the airport were cancelled, including flights to Minneapolis, Denver and Chicago. Several others were delayed, some for hours.

Those stuck waiting at the airport and on the runway included the football teams from the University of Sioux Falls, University of South Dakota and South Dakota State University.

Friday’s snow stopped falling by 6 p.m., but there could be more in the future. Current forecasts show a chance of snow on Thanksgiving Day.

Although it is too early to determine if and how much snow will fall, there could be some sort of precipitation on Thursday, Hacker said.

As for Friday’s intense introduction to winter, Hacker said the heavy snowfall was surprising but not outside the realm of possibility.

“Every once in a while we get those extreme values,” she said.

Snow totals for Friday

Southeast of Harrisburg – 17 inches

Southwest Sioux Falls – 14 inches

Tyndall – 11 inches

Yankton – 8 inches

Salem – 5 inches

Chamberlain – 4 inches

Dell Rapids – 2 inches

Madison – 1.2 inches

Flandreau – 0.3 inches

 

 

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