Late spring storm could dump up to 2 feet of snow in parts of western South Dakota



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RAPID CITY, South Dakota — Western South Dakota residents: dust off the scrapers, shovels and heavy coats. Up to 2 feet of snow are headed your way this early May weekend.

The National Weather Service is forecasting a late-spring storm starting Saturday night that will make travel hazardous in areas west of the Missouri River and could endanger newborn and young livestock. A blizzard warning was expected to go into effect at 6 p.m. Saturday and last through Sunday evening.

"We have a very dynamic system that is going through," said Aaron Ward, a meteorologist with the weather service in Rapid City. "It's not unprecedented for this time of the year, but this one does happen to be pulling down some much colder air than what we'd normally see this late in the year."

That cold air in combination with the moisture that the system is bringing to the area is resulting in the snow in the forecast.

Snow began to accumulate in Rapid City Saturday afternoon, but up to 12 inches is expected to pile up in that area. The Black Hills and higher elevations could see between 1 and 2 feet of snow, while the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation is southwestern South Dakota could see 7 to 10 inches.

The weather service is discouraging people from driving overnight as travel may become hazardous due to heavy snow and low visibility. The heavy snow could also down tree branches and cause power outages.

As the snow accumulates and temperatures fall, calves and lambs are vulnerable to hypothermia. Agricultural experts are reminding farmers and ranchers to have some form of shelter ready or consider moving young livestock inside buildings or protected areas.

Dave Olilla, with the Regional Extension Center of South Dakota State University in Rapid City, told KBHB-AM that cows trying to get the best protection against the weather sometimes can step on calves that are tired and laying down along the windbreak of a ranch.

"Some of the opportunities is to have shelters, and if you don't have that, at least take a portable panel or two and fence off a corner of your windbreak — usually that's near the very far corner where it's the deepest — and raise that panel up so that calves can get under there but the cows can't get in there," Olilla said. "That would make quite the difference."

The snow also forced the cancellation and rescheduling of a number of events. The Black Hills Film Festival in Hill City closed Saturday evening and canceled its Sunday schedule. The junior high school rodeo in Belle Fourche and high school rodeos in Wall, Lemmon, Philip and Faith have been postponed.

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