Christmas Day Blizzard Watch for Two Dakotas, Travel May Become Extremely Hazardous

The National Weather Service has issued a blizzard watch for all of western North Dakota and South Dakota Christmas Day Sunday through Monday morning.

According to the National Weather Service, “A significant winter storm will impact much of the northern plains and upper midwest Christmas Day Sunday into Monday.”

In a winter weather message released by the National Weather Service in Bismark, North Dakota, foreceasters stated, “Confidence continues to increase that heavy snowfall and strong winds will impact western and central North Dakota. A widespread area of around 6 to 12 inches of snowfall is possible. Blizzard conditions are possible…Especially Sunday afternoon through Monday morning when strong gusty winds develop leading to dangerous Christmas travel conditions.”

In a separate winter weather message released by the National Weather Service in Rapid City, South Dakota, forecasters stated, “A strong low pressure system will cross the Rockies Saturday night and rapidly develop over the northern plains on Sunday. This system will bring rain, snow, and freezing precipitation to the area… Along with strong northwesterly winds and near zero visibilities Sunday into Sunday night.

“At this time, the heaviest snow looks to fall across northwest South Dakota north of Interstate 90 – where 5 to 9 inches are possible. This is also where the strongest winds are currently forecast…With sustained winds of 30 to 40 mph with frequent gusts over 60 mph and possibly as high as 70 mph.”

Meteorologists caution that such high wind speeds would lead to significant blowing and drifting snow and prolonged periods of near zero visibility, “With travel becoming impossible. The strong winds could also lead to power outages and tree damage. Further south…Less snow is currently forecast. However…The strong winds could still lead to blizzard conditions even with only a few inches of snow.”

 

A blizzard watch means there is a potential for falling and/or blowing snow with strong winds and extremely poor visibilities. This can lead to whiteout conditions and make travel very
dangerous.

The National Weather Service is urging drivers to continue to monitor this storm – and to be flexible with their travel plans.

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