An unusually powerful early season snowstorm is cranking up over the upper midwest, producing blizzard conditions over much of the Dakotas and Wyoming. The storm, referred to as “Winter Storm Atlas” by The Weather Channel (TWC), was predicted by TWC to drop between 5 and 12 inches of snow throughout the entire western half of South Dakota, as depicted in their original forecast image below:
Unfortunately for them, and perhaps the residents of the area, thunderstorms have been continuously been getting pulled into the cold air, creating massive snowfall amounts, especially in the higher elevations. As of the time I am writing this, Rapid City, SD, has received over 20 inches of snow. More impressively, the town of Lead in South Dakota has received 37 inches. On top of this, winds have been sustained between 40 and 50 mph, with gusts up to hurricane force at nearly 75mph! If what the radar is showing is a sign of things to come, amounts of over four feet will likely be met before the storm wraps up.
With the government being shut down at the moment, National Weather Service (NWS) employees are working without pay right now. Since the NWS is responsible for issuing much of the forecast guidance, this could be one of the first examples of why it’s so critical the government not remain shutdown for much longer. The following forecast was posted by the NWS in Alaska earlier today… notice the first letter of each line spells out a hidden message, “PLEASE PAY US”:
Casper, WY received much less snow than areas of South Dakota (between 8 and 13 inches), so consider the damage in the picture below. Trees still have leaves, and with the snow being heavy and wet, there is going to be a lot of tree damage, especially in the areas that end up receiving 25 to 50 inches of snow.