It was bound to happen eventually.
The first snowfall of the year is hours away for Campbell County with the National Weather Service (NWS) in Rapid City, South Dakota predicting as much as a foot of snow within the next 48 hours.
Downtown Gillette and Wright are expected to get between 4-8 inches while the west side of the county should get about foot by sunrise Wednesday.
“We’re ready. We’ve been ready for Mother Nature to turn on us for a couple weeks now,” Gillette Streets Manager Troy Tyrrell said. “We didn’t think it would come quite this early, but we prepared just in case. We have a couple of new (snow plow) operators this year, so they are actually out today (Monday) driving the routes and getting familiar with what’s to come.”
Tyrell said the roads will be a priority as usual but another big concern will be the trees.
“This is going to be heavy, wet snow and that does not mix well when you still have leaves on the trees,” he said. “That will be something to worry about as well as the streets.”
After a gloomy Monday afternoon with temperatures in the high 40s, the weather will start to change overnight with rain, colder air, and winds slowly picking up heading into Tuesday morning. The rain will turn to snow tomorrow afternoon that will continue to fall throughout the night making for a slick and blustery Wednesday wake up for commuters.
“We’re looking for the highest snow fall amounts in western Campbell County,” said NWS Rapid City Meteorologist Melissa Smith. “Those areas will get between six inches and more likely closer to 12 inches.”
Smith said the line from Spotted Horse to Recluse to Pine Tree Junction should expect around a foot total before the storm system moves out late Wednesday.
Tyrrell said his department is preparing for a worst-case scenario of a foot or more but realistically expecting to see 5-8 inches.
The storm hit Sheridan and Buffalo on Monday where the snow is already falling. Smith said up to 20 inches is expected in those areas before reaching Campbell County tomorrow night.
Smith said snow will fall throughout Campbell County, though residents should not be too concerned with accumulation on roadways.
“Most of the snow that falls will melt on the road surfaces simply because the ground is still too warm, but there will be a nice covering on picnic tables and benches,” Smith said.
Visibility is expected to be the biggest concern during this season’s first winter blast. High winds and blowing snow will impact Campbell County overnight Tuesday and Wednesday morning, according to NWS.
“Anyone who has to be on the road early Wednesday morning should expect limited visibility,” Smith warned. “The winds will be much stronger with blowing snow and wind chill values in the teens. The combination is going to cause problems. More problems than the snow accumulation this time.”
During the next couple of days, winds will slowly pickup from 15 miles per hour tonight before turning into frigid gusts between 20 and 30 mph Tuesday night. The winds will peak Wednesday morning at around 40 mph, dropping the wind chill values into the teens.
“This is just a quick taste of winter,” Smith said. “Our computer models don’t go all the way to Halloween just yet, but this will be the only system like this through (Oct.) 25th from what we see.”
This weekend highs are supposed to warm up into the 40s.