The Yankton region spent the weekend pulling itself out of the first major snowstorm of the season, which saw nearly two feet of snow dumped on some areas.
Last Friday’s major snowfall totals ranged from 7-18 inches. Yankton reflected the major difference seen in just a few miles. The city itself recorded 8 inches of snowfall, while a site to the east-southeast of town recorded about a foot of snow. Yankton’s record snowfall for Nov. 20 stood at 12 inches, set in 1975.
Don’t look for last Friday’s white stuff to remain for long, according to South Dakota state climatologist Dennis Todey.
"As for moisture, this will wet up the upper layers of soil. A chunk of this will run off. There is just too much here for there not to be run-off," he told the Press & Dakotan.
"I wasn’t concerned about moisture totals in the southeast (part of South Dakota). Precipitation has been above average throughout the area over the last 90 days."
Todey stressed what sidewalk shovelers had learned -- early season snows can be heavy at times. "With the warmer temperatures, you’re able to have ‘wetter’ snow," he said.
The "Big Dig" following Friday’s storm was already giving way to the "Big Melt" over the weekend. Yankton recorded Sunday temperatures in the 40s.
Todey said he was waiting to talk with National Weather Service (NWS) officials for more details on the unexpected brunt of last Friday’s storm. Early forecasts for snow totals were lower. However, the forecasts were quickly upgraded as the intensity of the storm became more apparent upon its arrival.
"Something happened in the storm because there was a fairly large ‘under forecast’ of snow. That’s not common," he said. "This was quite large in any context for the snow. There was a report from Marion around 16 inches. That would make for their second largest snow total ever. Sioux Falls officially will come in the top 10 (for) November one-day totals."
The NWS website lists moisture, a front and atmospheric instability as key factors for a major storm.
The NWS was still compiling snowfall totals Sunday. Tea and Harrisburg recorded a respective 18 and 17 inches, followed by Alcester and Marion with 16 inches each.
Besides Yankton, next in line among reported totals were Centerville with 12.5 inches, Wakonda 12 inches, Tripp and Tyndall 11 inches, Vermillion 9 inches; Menno, Armour and Ponca, Nebraska, 8 inches each; and Corsica and North Sioux City 7 inches each.
The Weatherology website reported 8.5 inches at an unidentified Knox County, Nebraska, location. The Cedar County, Nebraska, emergency management office in Hartington, Nebraska, received several reports of 6 inches in the western part of the county.
Todey noted the very sharp dividing line for Friday’s storm. The NWS reported Interstate 90 appeared to be the line. Over a distance of approximately 20 miles, snowfall increased from a total of 2-4 inches in the north to a total of 16-18 inches to the south.
"Looking at NWS reports, much of the area of southeast South Dakota into northwest Iowa reached double digit snowfalls, though there was a very sharp cut-off on the north end around Sioux Falls," he said. "Amounts dropped very quickly in that Brookings and Huron had no accumulating snow. I saw only a few flakes (Friday in Brookings)."
For the record, Todey found the state’s largest one-day November snow total was found at Lead with 45.1 inches. Outside the Black Hills, Kennebec recorded the highest figure with a 20-inch total during the 2005 ice storm.
When it comes to Thanksgiving plans, travelers should watch for another storm system that could move through the area.
The NWS has said this week looks to bring a roller coaster of conditions.
"The first half of the upcoming week will feature good weather and near normal late November temperatures," the advisory said. "The second half of the week looks to bring another storm system through the region Wednesday afternoon through Thursday night, followed by cold and dry conditions Friday."
So what does that mean for hitting the road this holiday weekend?
"Those with travel plans for the Thanksgiving holiday should monitor the forecast for the latest updates on location and timing of fog, freezing drizzle, sleet and light snow," the NWS advises.
Wednesday’s forecast calls for early morning fog and areas of drizzle with a slight chance of rain after noon. The chance of precipitation stands at 20 percent.
Wednesday night calls for a chance of rain, snow and sleet before 2 a.m., followed by a chance of snow, freezing rain and sleet between 2-3 a.m. and a chance of snow after 3 a.m.
The Thanksgiving Day forecast calls for a chance of snow, cloudy and blustery conditions with a high temperature near 28. The chance of precipitation is 50 percent.
Thursday night calls for a chance of snow and blustery conditions. The low temperatures are forecast around 14, with a 30 percent chance of precipitation.
Follow @RDockendorf on Twitter.