- Associated Press - Monday, December 28, 2015

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - A major winter storm impacting the central U.S. is not expected to cause major problems in the Dakotas, but it’s likely to add to what already has been a busy year for snow removal in South Dakota’s largest city.

Sioux Falls has received just under 30 inches of snow from three big storms the past two months. That’s just 2.5 inches shy of the city’s snowfall total for all of last winter, and the city could get 3 to 5 inches more by the end of Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service.

“I would expect that by this time tomorrow, we’ll have more snowfall this (winter) than we did last year,” NWS meteorologist Todd Heitkamp in Sioux Falls said.

City Street-Fleet Manager Galynn Huber said he already has had to ask the City Council for more money for snow removal this winter - up to an additional $2 million to augment the $7.2 million budgeted through the end of the calendar year.

Sioux Falls averages about four snowfalls over more than half a foot each winter, and this winter there’s already been three of those. Huber attributes it to the El Nino, or warming of the tropical Pacific that affects weather worldwide, which he said is bringing more Pacific moisture into the region.

“It’s been a very active winter for us,” he said.

A succession of severe weather events across the country in the last week has led to at least 43 deaths. The latest storm was causing problems from Texas to the Great Lakes and clipping the northern Plains, where snowstorms typically sweep in from the Rockies or Canada.

“It’s not your typical snowstorm. We’re actually kind of pulling a piece of energy from that major system in the southern and central Plains back into the northern Plains,” said Todd Hamilton, a weather service meteorologist in Bismarck. “It’s kind of a weird little system.”

Extreme southeastern South Dakota started Monday under a winter storm warning, but the National Weather Service downgraded it to a winter weather advisory by the afternoon, with up to 6 inches of snow expected in the area near the border with Sioux City, Iowa. The system also was expected to drop 1 to 2 inches of snow late Monday into Tuesday in southern and western North Dakota.

However, forecasters said the storm shouldn’t cause major problems in either state, despite gusty winds that could accompany the snow.

“We don’t think it’s going to cause severe whiteout conditions,” Heitkamp said.

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