A strengthening low pressure system in western South Dakota is the source of a major blizzard that's expected to ramp up over the northern Plains today and tomorrow, bringing with it the potential for up to two feet of snow, wind gusts of 60 MPH, and cause temperatures to plummet into the single digits with wind chills as low as 15 degrees below zero.

Blizzard conditions are defined by the National Weather Service as sustained winds of at least 35 MPH with falling/blowing snow that drops visibility to less than one-quarter of a mile for three consecutive hours.

This region of the country has seen hit-or-miss snowfall this winter, coming in largely at- or below-average so far.

  • Grand Forks, North Dakota has seen 47.7 inches of snow, which is exactly equal to its seasonal average of 47.7 inches.
  • Fargo, North Dakota usually sees ~50 inches of snow every year, but the city has only seen 30.6" this winter.
  • Bismarck, North Dakota also gets roughly 50 inches of snow each year, but it's seen a little more than half of its average since October, recording 27.4".
  • Rapid City, South Dakota is the winner of the five biggest Dakota cities, coming in a foot above average for the winter so far. It's seen 55.5" of the white stuff this winter, compared to its seasonal average of ~41 inches. 20.8" of that fell at the beginning of October thanks to a freak blizzard that killed tens of thousands of cattle.
  • Sioux Falls, South Dakota is going to miss out of this blizzard — only seeing an inch or less of accumulation — but the city is holding right around average for this time of year, getting 42" of its normal 44" of snow.

Even though Sioux Falls will miss out on the major snow, it won't escape the brutal temperature drop. As shown by the above temperature chart, the city's predicted high today is 66° and its low tonight will drop to 17° with a wind chill of -1°.

Just another day in the Dakotas.

[Images via NWS]