State Transportation and Public Safety officials caution South Dakota motorists that, although skies may be clearing in parts of the state during the day on Wednesday, travel remains challenging on many highways.
Heavy snow and strong winds, along with freezing rain in some areas, caused roads to become snow-packed and slippery and created white-out conditions at times. No-travel advisories continue on several roads, and a segment of Interstate 90 between Murdo and Chamberlain remains closed.
Even as skies in western and extreme southeastern South Dakota cleared through the morning hours, many people were led to believe the storm had passed and safe travel was possible all across the state.
“We understand that people want to be on the roads and about their business, but we ask for patience while our maintenance crews clear the roads,’’ said Greg Fuller, director of operations for the South Dakota Transportation Department. “It may seem the storm has passed, but strong winds are expected to continue over a large portion of South Dakota into the early evening hours. That means travel will continue to be a challenge, and patience is part of making safe choices.’’
The road cameras featured in the SafetravelUSA site can be a valuable tool when making travel decisions. However, the views from the cameras can be deceiving. The cameras are mounted at a relatively high elevation and may not give a true picture of ice conditions or the severity of ground blizzards occurring at highway level. They also do not show road conditions in between areas where cameras are located.
While road and weather conditions may be favorable in some parts of the state, officials ask the traveling public to have confidence in the road conditions that have been posted to www.safetravelus.com/sd and 511. Maintenance crews on those roads are updating the conditions regularly throughout the day.
Though most highways in South Dakota are open, motorists should expect difficult travel conditions until the precipitation and wind finally diminish. Transportation Department crews will continue maintenance operations into the early evening hours today (Wednesday). Winter maintenance will be suspended at that time to give plow operators a rest break after a 14- or 15-hour day before operations resume early on Thursday morning.