Marilyn Buskohl
Public Affairs Director
O: (605) 310-4614
C: (605) 367-3964

Polar Vortex Plunge to Bring Brutally Cold Temps to South Dakota

January 28, 2019 - A surge of arctic air is about to bring the coldest temperatures in years to most of eastern South Dakota by Wednesday as part of the polar vortex is set to blast the region with brutally cold temperatures.  Life threatening wind chills are possible of -40 to -60 degrees Tuesday night into Wednesday morning.

“Wind chills this low can be deadly, so it’s critically important to be as prepared as possible,” said Marilyn Buskohl, AAA spokesperson. Drivers are more likely to experience dead car batteries or tire pressure issues as the temperature drops.

“It will be all hands on deck at AAA so that we may respond to stranded motorists as quickly and safely as possible,” Buskohl said. “No one ever plans on getting stranded so AAA encourages anyone with a car battery more than three years old to get it checked as temperatures drop.”

Each year, AAA rides to the rescue of approximately 32 million stranded motorists across the country. Making sure your AAA membership is active for roadside assistance is important and as simple as going to or stopping in at one of the AAA South Dakota retail stores. The not-for-profit auto club association also offers these winter vehicle care tips to drivers:


  • AAA says the average car battery lasts 3-5 years. 
  • Even at 32 degrees, a battery is 35 percent weaker. 
  • At zero degrees, a car’s battery loses about 60 percent of its strength, yet the engine needs about twice as much power to start.
  • A battery’s life can be drained faster if devices are plugged into cars (cell phone chargers, upgraded audio and GPS devices)


AAA also recommends checking tire pressure frequently because tires lose air when air temperatures are cold.

Proper cold weather tire pressure can be found in the vehicle manual or on a sticker inside the driver’s door, not on the tire itself.

Winter Emergency Kit

Motorists are advised to prepare a winter emergency kit to stow in the trunk of their vehicle to have immediately available should the need arise. More than 40 percent of motorists do not carry an emergency kit in their vehicle, cautions AAA South Dakota.

  • Emergency kit items to include – de-icer, shovel, ice scraper, warning flare or reflector triangle, flashlight with fresh batteries, first aid kit, jumper cables and sand or kitty litter (for traction).
  • Pack a blanket, extra gloves and heavy but light-colored jacket, scarf or hat (so you can be seen if you have to get out of your vehicle) – if you’re stuck on the road for an extended period of time you’ll need to stay warm, especially if your vehicle is not running.
  • Snacks and beverages for passengers and pets who may be traveling with you.
  • Motorists should also have a cell phone with car charger, and AAA members should travel with their membership card or have their membership number handy when calling for roadside assistance.

If travel is planned across the area, motorists should be prepared to encounter snow-covered roads, and slow travel conditions," Buskohl said. Frozen streets and blowing snow cause more vehicles to slip off the traveled portion of the roadway, therefore will need extrications and possible tows. AAA is reaching out to our providers to ensure the drivers and equipment are prepared to help our 100,000 AAA members in South Dakota. 

AAA South Dakota call volume is 4xs what it normally is in the Sioux Falls and east river areas of the state due to blowing snow and cold temps at this time.

Vehicle Breakdown Tips

Pull out of the traffic lanes if your car breaks down. If faced with a vehicle emergency, safely steer your car off the roadway. Turn on the emergency flashers to alert other drivers and exit the vehicle on the side facing away from traffic, if possible. Once everyone is in a safe location, request assistance from a road service provider.

“The first goal is to try to avoid a breakdown by keeping your vehicle up-to-date on maintenance. The second goal, should you break down, is to stay as safe and warm as possible while waiting for help to arrive,” Buskohl said.  

For more safety tips if a vehicle breaks down, visit:


TEDx Wilmington Salon

Who's in the Driver's Seat? The Transformation of Transportation

On Tuesday, October 17, 2017, AAA and TEDx Wilmington held the first TEDx Salon dedicated to ideas worth spreading in transportation.

This event had:

  • 12 live talks given by 13 speakers
  • 368 people in attendance at the live event
  • More than 7,500 viewed the event online through Livestream, viewing events, and on the AAA Associate network
  • Online viewers came from all 50 states and approximately 30 countries around the world

View a slideshow from the event

This TEDx WilmingtonSalon was organized in partnership with AAA

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