Slow-moving Snow Storm Dumps Nine Inches; Slows Monday’s Start

Holli Seehafer

Residents of the Whetstone Valley, as well as business owners, busied themselves with the task of removing an estimated nine to 12 inches of snow from sidewalks and parking areas on Monday morning, December 30. 

Slow-moving Snow Storm Dumps
Nine Inches; Slows Monday’s Start
Many business owners in Grant County chose to either open late or keep their businesses closed on Monday, December 30, in the wake of a slow-moving snow storm that dropped an estimated nine to 12 inches of snow in Milbank. 
County and city offices were open, but the employees in state offices were granted a half-day administrative leave. The state offices opened at 1 p.m. 
The storm system moved into the state in the afternoon and evening hours of Friday, December 27, and spread northeast. Grant County was in a National Weather Service forecast of up to 15 inches of snow, but because of warm temperatures, some of the moisture was expected to arrive as mist, freezing rain or sleet. 
Friday night into Saturday morning left approximately four inches of snow in parts of Grant County. After a respite the snow resumed, accompanied by high winds of 35 miles per hour or more. A peak wind gust of 58 miles per hour was recorded by the South Dakota Department of Transportation at Summit on Sunday. 
The blizzard conditions led to the closure of Interstate 29 from Watertown to the North Dakota boarder on Sunday. Officials pulled the snowplows from state highways, and officials in several counties, including  Grant, issued no travel advisories on Sunday. 
State plows were back out on Monday at approximately 6:30 a.m., according to Kevin Schuelke, Grant County emergency management director. County plows began clearing county roadways shortly thereafter. Officials let the no travel advisory expire before noon Monday as the winds diminished and advancements were made in clearing the highways. The Interstate was reopened to traffic before noon on Monday. 
    Officials with the Grant County sheriff’s office were not aware of any reports of stranded motorists during the storm. “It was pretty cool; people listened to the advisories and stayed put,” Schuelke said. “That makes it a lot easier for the emergency personnel.”  
The parking lot at the Summit Coffee Cup harbored approximately 35 to 40 travelers from Saturday night until the Interstate reopened on Monday, according to Dani Zubke, assistant manager. The snowfall total reported by residents at Summit was approximately 18 inches.
According to Boyd VanVooren, Milbank police chief, the City of Milbank issued two snow alerts during the three-day storm and crews worked to keep the city streets passable. The residents responded to the alert and fewer than 10 snow alert tickets were issued on vehicles that had not been removed from the streets. 
There were no accidents reported in Milbank, but several motorists became stuck while they were trying to drive around in town. The Milbank Police personnel assisted with several ambulance calls and followed up on requests for welfare checks on elderly residents. They also received calls to report animals that were at-large or had been left outside in the storm. 
Dave Page, general manager at Whetstone Valley Electric Cooperative (WVEC), Inc., reported that the company began experiencing short outages a few days ahead of the winter storm, on Wednesday, December 25, when there was a heavy frost accumulation. “We experienced short outages (blinks) due to ice and frost buildup and falling from transmission lines,” he said. “In one case a transmission outage lasting 25 minutes affected about 500 members in the Peever and Sisseton areas.” WVEC experienced two weather-related distribution outages on December 25 affecting about 270 members.
“Throughout the weekend, East River continued to experience blinks due to ice falling from transmission lines,” Page said. On Sunday, WVEC experienced nine weather-related outages affecting a total of 108 services. No outages have been reported since crews restored the last outage which was Sunday at 8:30 p.m.  “The number of reported blinks has significantly declined since 1:30 a.m. on Monday, December 30,” he concluded. 
~Holli Seehafer



Grant County Review

Grant County Review
P.O. Box 390
Milbank, SD 57252
(605) 432-4516

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