The Times West Virginian

Headline News

October 6, 2013

Great Plains digs out of heavy snow, storm debris

PIERRE, S.D. — Breaking nearly century-old early autumn snowfall records, a storm system smothered South Dakota’s scenic Black Hills in South Dakota with up to three and a half feet of wet, heavy snow, leaving residents the challenge of digging out.

But wintry weather wasn’t the only thing delivered by the powerful cold front that crossed the Great Plains, as unusually strong thunderstorms brought heavy rain, hail and as many as nine tornadoes to Nebraska and Iowa. Fifteen people in northeast Nebraska were injured in a tornado Friday, while three died in a car accident on a snow-slicked road.

Forecasters said the front would eventually combine with other storms to make for a wild — and probably very wet — weekend for much of the central U.S. and Southeast.

Power outages and impassable roads plagued western South Dakota on Saturday. More than 25,000 people had lost power in the Black Hills area, and authorities were recruiting snowmobilers to help rescue about 80 motorists who’d been stuck overnight.

Rapid City plow driver Jesse Curnow said Saturday morning things weren’t moving so smoothly in chest-high drifts after a record 21-inch snowfall. He couldn’t get out of the business’ parking lot.

“I’m trapped. I can kind of move, but only a little bit,” Curnow said by telephone from the cab of his truck.

Pennington County Emergency Management spokeswoman Alexa White said rescue efforts were slow-going, because “the only way to get there is the snowmobiles or the Sno-Cats.”

“The plows have gotten stuck in the roads,” she said.

Also stuck were four employees of the National Weather Service’s Rapid City office. They’d been there since Friday, meteorologist David Carpenter said Saturday.

“There is a 3-foot drift across the parking lot and no one has had the energy to shovel it out yet,” he said.

Friday’s snowfall — 19 inches — broke the previous one-day snowfall record for October by about nine inches; it was set on Oct. 19, 1919, Carpenter said. Rapid City saw an extra 2.5 inches overnight. Friday also surpassed the record for the entire month, 15.1 inches, also set in 1919.

National Weather Service meteorologist Katie Pojorlie said Lead, S.D., in the northern Black Hills had received 43  1/2 inches of snow by 7:30 p.m. Friday and more had fallen overnight.

That’s not unheard of in the area, according to Donna Heaton, manager of the Terry Peak Lodge.

“Last year in April, we got over 50 inches after the ski area closed. It would be nice to help the local economy if all the snow would fall when the ski area and the snowmobile trails were open,” she told AP radio.

And in southwest North Dakota, about 10 inches of snow fell Friday, the National Weather Service said.

Interstate 90 was still closed in the western part of South Dakota on Saturday, and officials advised against travel elsewhere as white-out conditions kept snowplows from making much progress on roads until at least late in the day.

“... There’s no place to go even if you do get your of your driveway and onto your street,” state Transportation Secretary Darin Bergquist said in a statement.

Crews with Black Hills Power weren’t able to work overnight because of blowing snow, spokesman Mutch Usera said. The Black Hills’ rough terrain and downed tree branches were also hampering restoration efforts, he said.

“Hopefully, the sun will shine a little bit and get a bit warmer. That’s going to make it easier,” Usera said.

When temperatures warm up into the 50s by Monday, the snow melt could cause flooding, White said, but officials are just focusing on rescue efforts for now.

Meanwhile, National Weather Service meteorologist Mike Fuhs said as many as nine tornadoes touched down in Iowa and Nebraska between 6 p.m. and 7:45 p.m. Friday. He called some of them “quite powerful,” and noted it was unusual to see so many and with such power during the fall.

Some of the most severe tornado damage was in Wayne, Neb., where at least 10 buildings were destroyed and five were heavily damaged, the Omaha World-Herald reported. Video showed a farm implement showroom and a grain elevator had been destroyed. Mayor Ken Chamberlain said at least 15 people were injured, with one person in critical condition.

In northwest Iowa, nearly two dozen farmsteads were destroyed and 60 damaged, said Woodbury County Emergency Director Gary Brown. He said the storms cut a 35-mile-long path through the county, but there was only one report of a minor injury.

The cold front is moving slowly east and expanding south and will meet up with the remnants of Tropical Storm Karen.  Pojorlie noted that the wet, heavy snow was more typical of a spring storm.

“Normally, we get some snow events here in October that give people a little bit of a chance to learn how to drive in snow again,” she said. “This year, we got started with a blizzard.”

———

Associated Press writers Margery Beck in Omaha, Neb.; Ed Donahue in Washington, D.C.; Dirk Lammers in Sioux Falls, S.D.; James MacPherson in Bismarck, N.D., contributed to this report.

 

1
Text Only
Headline News
  • Everest avalanche reminder of risks Sherpas face

    The rescuers moved quickly, just minutes after the first block of ice tore loose from Mount Everest and started an avalanche that roared down the mountain, ripping through teams of guides hauling gear.
    But they couldn’t get there quickly enough.

    April 20, 2014

  • Colorado deaths stoke worries about pot edibles

    A college student eats more than the recommended dose of a marijuana-laced cookie and jumps to his death from a hotel balcony. A husband with no history of violence is accused of shooting his wife in the head, possibly after eating pot-infused candy.

    April 19, 2014

  • Everest avalanche kills at least 12

    An avalanche swept down a climbing route on Mount Everest early Friday, killing at least 12 Nepalese guides and leaving four missing in the deadliest disaster on the world’s highest peak. Several more were injured.

    April 19, 2014

  • Diplomacy doesn’t move insurgents in Ukraine

    Pro-Russian insurgents defiantly refused Friday to surrender their weapons or give up government buildings in eastern Ukraine, despite a diplomatic accord reached in Geneva and overtures from the government in Kiev.

    April 19, 2014

  • Clinton to Obama: Many parallels

    Thousands of pages of documents from President Bill Clinton’s White House affirm a longtime adage: The more things change, the more they stay the same.
    As Clinton prepared for an August 1994 news conference in which he hoped to build public support for his struggling — and ultimately unsuccessful — health care overhaul, he told his advisers: “A lot of them want to know they can keep their own plan if they like it.”

    April 19, 2014

  • Obama voices skepticism on Russia in Ukraine

    President Barack Obama conveyed skepticism Thursday about Russian promises to de-escalate a volatile situation in Ukraine, and said the United State and its allies are ready to impose fresh sanctions if Moscow doesn’t make good on its commitments.

    April 18, 2014

  • President defending health-care law good for some Democrats

    President Barack Obama’s full-throated defense of his health-care overhaul seems perfectly timed for Democrats who want their party to embrace the law more enthusiastically.
    At a White House news conference Thursday, Obama noted that health insurance enrollments under the new law are higher than expected, and costs are lower.

    April 18, 2014

  • Deal reached on calming Ukraine tensions — for now

    In a surprise accord, Ukraine and Russia agreed Thursday on tentative steps to halt violence and calm tensions along their shared border after more than a month of Cold War-style military posturing triggered by Moscow’s annexation of Crimea.

    April 18, 2014

  • Boston Marathon organizers confident of safe race

    The arrest of a man with a rice cooker in his backpack near the Boston Marathon finish line led police to step up patrols Wednesday, while organizers sought to assure the city and runners of a safe race next week.
    The actions of the man, whose mother said he had a mental disorder, rattled nerves as Boston prepared for the annual race, but authorities said they did not consider it a security breach.

    April 17, 2014

  • Screen Shot 2014-04-16 at 12.51.22 PM.png VIDEO: Toddler climbs into vending machine

    A child is safe after climbing into and getting stuck inside a claw crane machine at a Lincoln, Neb., bowling alley Monday.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

House Ads
Featured Ads