- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 1, 2015

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - A record-breaking snowstorm lingering over the northern Plains on Tuesday caused slippery roads leading to at least one traffic fatality and headaches for schools, but brought much-needed moisture to the region.

The system was dropping heavy, wet snow on the Dakotas that is more typical of a spring snowfall than an early winter event, said Matthew Dux, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

“It’s been responsible not only for the heavy snows up here in the northern Plains, but also torrential heavy rains in the lower Missouri River Valley and into the Tennessee River Valley,” Dux said Tuesday.

The storm dropped 8.7 inches of snow on Sioux Falls on Monday, breaking the city’s record for the date of 7.6 inches in 1954. Mitchell set a record Monday with 7.2 inches, along with Sioux City, Iowa, with 6.6 inches. Mitchell’s previous record had stood since 1991 and Sioux City’s since 1981.

Several more inches of snow was expected in the region by Tuesday evening, though no more records were likely to fall, according to Dux. Winter weather warnings and advisories remained in place for much of the Dakotas.

Many South Dakota schools announced late starts or canceled classes. The University of Sioux Falls postponed a Tuesday night men’s basketball game against Southwest Minnesota State because of the conditions.

Roads were reported in poor driving condition across both states.

“Here in Bismarck, it’s awful slippery,” North Dakota Highway Patrol spokesman Tom Iverson said. “Traffic is moving slow, which is good.”

A three-vehicle crash Tuesday morning near Mandaree in which one man died and another person was injured as weather-related, according to the patrol.

Warm ground temperatures contributed to the slick conditions but also promised to boost soil moisture.

“The ground isn’t completely frozen yet. A lot of this snow, when it does melt, it will be soaking into the ground,” Dux said. “A lot of places have been dry this fall, and a snow like this is definitely beneficial heading into the winter.”

The latest U.S. Drought Monitor map showed about one-fourth of South Dakota as being abnormally dry before the storm. North Dakota was worse off, with slightly more than half of the state rated abnormally dry or in moderate drought.

Cold arctic air that often rushes into the northern Plains behind wintry storms won’t follow this one, Dux said. The forecast calls for high temperatures in the 30s and 40s into next week.

“(The snow) is going to gradually melt and contract, slowly shrink over the next week and a half,” Dux said.

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