The unseasonably early snowstorm of the Great Plains has resulted in the death of three people who died in a car accident caused by slick road conditions Friday. The winter front also brought a number of tornados to the area that resulted in 15 injuries.
In South Dakota and Wyoming people received the worst of it with power outages and blackouts. More than 25,000 people were estimated to have lost power in the Black Hills region of South Dakota alone. An additional 60,000 residents in Rapid City, S.D. were without power, according to CNN.
Slick roads with piles of snow made driving nearly impossible. More than 80 people were reported to have been stranded in their cars overnight.
Snowmobiles were the only reliable mode of transportation during the snow storm, making rescue efforts slower then usual, Pennington County Emergency Management spokesperson Alexa White told the Associated Press.
"The plows have gotten stuck in the roads," White said.
"I'm trapped. I can kind of move, but only a little bit," Jesse Curnow, a Rapid City plow driver, reported to AP by telephone from the cab of his truck.
More than 43 inches of snow had fallen in Lead, S.D. by Saturday morning, National Weather Service Meteorologist Katie Pojorlie reported. Pojorlie also reported wind gusts of up 70 mph.
Although this area is known for its harsh winter months, the season typically starts off with a more moderate storm. "Normally, we get some snow events here in October that gives people a little bit of a chance to learn how to drive in snow again. This year, we got started with a blizzard," Pojorlie said.
As a result of all the stranded motorists, the Rapid City Police Department issued a "no travel" advisory. They reported visibility on roads to be less than a quarter mile.
The American Red Cross is "working with local authorities and emergency management to see what the needs are and [to] respond as needed," Liz Dorland of the Red Cross Nebraska/Southwest Iowa regional chapter said to CNN.
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