PIERRE, S.D. (KELO-AM) – State officials are cautioning travelers that blowing snow and warming temperatures are creating icy conditions on many state highways, especially Interstate 90 in central and eastern South Dakota, and highways east of the James River Valley, including I-29 in northeastern South Dakota.
State officials said there have been several accidents this morning where motorists have hit patches of ice and have been unable to keep control of their vehicles.
Travelers are reminded to slow down and turn off the cruise control even though road conditions in some areas may be clear.
The National Weather Service has said freezing rain, snow and strong winds will develop later today and continue into the weekend throughout much of South Dakota. That means motorists should be prepared for difficult travel conditions throughout the day Friday and into Saturday, at least.
Dangerous wind chills will also be prevalent throughout the weekend into early next week and people who must travel should drive with extreme caution and are encouraged to visitwww.safetravelusa.com/sd or dial 511 to check the latest road conditions and travel advisories before heading out.
If you must travel, the departments of Transportation and Public Safety recommend travelers also take the following steps.
- Wear your seatbelt.
- Travel during the day.
- Drive with your headlights on (not daytime running lights) so you can be seen by other motorists from the front and rear.
- Use highly traveled roads and highways.
- Keep family and friends informed of your travel schedule and route.
- Call 511 or visit safetravelusa.com for road conditions.
- Keep a winter weather survival kit in your car. The kit should include blankets, warm clothing, water, energy bars, a flashlight, a distress flag, a shovel and matches.
- Travel with a charged cell phone, but don’t rely on it to get you out of a bad situation.
- Change travel plans as weather conditions warrant.
If you do get stranded:
- Stay in your vehicle.
- Run the engine and heater about 10 minutes an hour to stay warm.
- When the engine is running, open a window slightly to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Periodically clearing snow from the exhaust pipe will also help prevent carbon monoxide buildup.
- When it’s dark outside, turn on the interior light so rescuers can see you.
- Put up a distress flag, or spread a large colored cloth on the ground to attract attention from rescuers.