A powerhouse late-winter storm began sweeping through the Yankton area Wednesday, with heavy rains creating wide-scale flooding, stalled vehicles and evacuations.
Roads in Yankton were experiencing heavy flooding. Some intersections were overwhelmed with running water. City crews were erecting barricades in numerous locations.
Motorists are being urged to drive carefully and avoid water on roads. Emergency crews were responding to several reports of vehicles being stalled in intersections and low spots throughout Yankton.
Also, a vehicle was also reported stranded on SW Jim River Road east of Yankton shortly after 1 p.m. Those inside the vehicle were eventually extracted.
Yankton Police Chief John Harris told the Press & Dakotan that, as of 1:50 p.m. Wednesday, residents are being urged to avoid travel if able. He said that drivers need to heed barricades in areas where the roads are closed in town.
“We’ve had people driving around our road closed barricades,” Harris said. “We’ve had two or three people we’ve had to go in and rescue after they drove through a road closure sign.”
The City of Yankton issued a release early Wednesday afternoon saying it “is monitoring the storm and sanitary sewer operations and all the systems are operating properly.”
The City later posted this message on social media: “No travel is advised in the City in Yankton. Numerous road closures are in place and some properties are land locked. Do not drive around barricades or on flooded roadways, it is both dangerous and illegal. Please remain where you are until conditions improve.”
The city urged citizens with mobility or health issues who are unable to remain in their homes to contact 211 for emergency shelter options.
City officials scheduled a media briefing for 5 p.m.
As of 2:30 p.m. Broadway Ave. in the area of Eighth St. was closed as water rose out of Marne Creek. At least two vehicles were stalled in the area.
Some evacuations were being conducted. Some businesses in the area of the Yankton Mall were being surrounded by rising water.
Yankton Search and Rescue was mobilized with boats to evacuate people from EconoLodge, located next to the mall.
Yankton County is advising no travel on county roads.
“Due to the current weather event, the Yankton County Highway Department and other County Emergency services are unable to keep up with the number of road closures required,” a press release from the sheriff’s department said. “For that reason it is strongly advised that there be no travel on county roads at this time as roads throughout the county continue to be covered by water and crews are unable to mark all necessary closures. Do not attempt to cross roadways that have been overtaken by flooding.”
In Nebraska, Cedar County Emergency Management is asking residents in low-lying area of Randolph, Nebraska, to evacuate immediately. Impacted areas are residents living along Hughson, Wayne, Park and Walden streets, in addition to other low-lying areas already experiencing flooding. The residents are being asked to report to the Randolph City Auditorium.
“Cedar County has received multiple reports of water … over state highways and county roads, making travel hazardous in many parts of the county,” Cedar County Emergency management added in a press release. “Motorists are asked to slow down and use caution if they are traveling today.”
The office later said that crews were out inspecting roadways. “Not all damaged roadways have been barricaded and travel on these roadways remains dangerous,” the press release said.
Late Wednesday afternoon, the Nebraska Department of Transportation (NDOT) issued a statement advising motorists to avoid travel in northeast Nebraska. Flooding was causing water to run over multiple roadways. Travel is not advised unless absolutely necessary.
Yankton School District closed school at 12:30 p.m. “Road conditions in the county are deteriorating quickly,” the school district said in a text message.
According to WNAX, NorthWestern Energy announced it would be cutting power to areas around Yankton Middle School. Spokesman Tom Glanzer said water is getting into their underground equipment.
As of 2:56 p.m. Wednesday, the Yankton airport had received 1.92 inches of rain. That would set a new record for March 13, breaking the old mark of 1.32 set in 1913.
According to a press release from the City of Yankton, the following streets are currently closed:
• Ferdig Street
• Peninah Street
• 31st & Douglas
• West City Limits Road
• 21st Street & Kellen Gross Drive
• Burleigh North of 21st Street
• Green Street 23rd to 25th
• Whiting from Ferdig to Alumax Road
• 23rd Street
• Summit Street from 19th to 21st
• 9th & Linn
• 6th & Cedar
• Bill Baggs Road
• 10th & Locust
Yankton County is under various watches and warnings due to the storm.
A winter storm watch runs from Thursday morning through the evening, with blizzard conditions possible. The National Weather Service said 1-3 inches of snow is expected, but winds could gust up to 55 miles per hour, creating hazardous conditions.
A river flood warning has been posted from 10 a.m. Saturday through 1 a.m. Monday for several regional streams, including the James River near Scotland, the vermillion River near Wakonda.
Meanwhile, much of the western half of South Dakota is under a blizzard warning, while parts of central South Dakota, including Charles Mix County, are under a winter storm warning. Northeast South Dakota is under a winter weather advisory.
In Nebraska, the panhandle is under a blizzard warning while central and northeastern Nebraska have flood warnings.
• Gov. Kristi Noem has ordered the closure of state government offices in 39 central and western counties for Wednesday due to expected severe winter weather conditions.
All of the counties included are either part of a blizzard warning or a winter storm warning issued by the National Weather Service or where there is a high probability of ice and winds. The counties are: Beadle, Bennett, Brown, Brule, Buffalo, Butte, Campbell, Charles Mix, Corson, Custer, Dewey, Edmunds, Fall River, Faulk, Gregory, Haakon, Hand, Harding, Hughes, Hyde, Jackson, Jerauld, Jones, Lawrence, Lyman, McPherson, Meade, Mellette, Oglala Lakota, Pennington, Perkins, Potter, Spink, Stanley, Sully, Tripp, Todd, Walworth and Ziebach.
• Interstate 90 is closed effective immediately from Wall to Chamberlain, both east and westbound lanes.
The closure is due to a strong late-winter storm which has started to make its way through the state. The quick-moving storm includes heavy snow, high winds, rain and freezing rain. Those factors will make travel difficult in many parts of the state.
• The Yankton Community Library will be closing at 1 p.m. Wednesday due to the inclement weather and flooding throughout town and surrounding areas.
• The Yankton Community Library Board of Trustees meeting that was scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Wednesday has been postponed to Wednesday, March 20, at 5:30 p.m.
• Due to inclement weather and flooding happening around Yankton, the Summit Activities Center closed at 1 p.m. Wednesday. Men’s Basketball League semifinal games will be rescheduled.
Also, due to inclement weather, flooding and no travel advised for Thursday, the Summit Activities Center will be closed.
• Due to the weather, the following Avera Medical Group (AMG) clinics in Yankton will close at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday and will also be closed all Thursday: Family Medicine; Ear, Nose & Throat; Behavioral Health; Pain Management; and the Wound Care and Hyperbaric Treatment Center.
• The Yankton Chamber of Commerce ribbon-cutting slated for Wednesday at A+ Improvements Inc. has been postponed to 3 p.m. Wednesday, March 20.
• Due to the flooding throughout and around Yankton, all events for Wednesday at the United Church of Christ have been cancelled. This includes Pilgrim Choir, Bell Choir, Adult Choir and Adult Study (which will be held on Sunday at 1 p.m.).
• The City of Yankton has canceled solid waste and recycling pickup for Thursday and Friday until a later date due to the extreme severe weather conditions.
• The First National Bank Customer Care Center in Yankton will be closed until further notice due to flooding in the area.