John Wheeler, Published October 21 2013
Weather Talk: Black Hills, SD, snowfall not comparable to Fargo’s“Come to South Dakota. See our beautiful fall colors – white.” – J.R. Raysor, the Deadwood (S.D.) Public Works Director
Parts of the Black Hills have received 6 feet of snow already this October from two separate snowstorms. Six feet is 72 inches. Fargo-Moorhead’s snowiest known winter in 1996-97 yielded 117 inches, which is almost 10 feet. The hills around Deadwood already have two-thirds of that, and there is still November, all of winter, and then early spring for more snow to fall.
There is an important difference, however. The Black Hills are mountains that stick up out of the Great Plains and catch moisture. When a moisture-laden wind blows up one side of the Black Hills, precipitation is squeezed out like the wringing out of a wet sponge. Lead, S.D., got more than 30 feet of snow in the winter of 1993-94. Thirty feet of snow is 360 inches, which is three times more than what fell here in 1997.
The extreme snow totals coming out of the Black Hills make great news copy, but they are not as unusual as they seem.
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