October 17, 2013

Blizzard Atlas Hits South Dakota Livestock Producers Hard

Photo from: http://igrow.org/livestock/beef/understanding-what-happened/

Greg Lardy
ASAS President

Blizzard Atlas churned into western South Dakota, eastern Wyoming, and southwestern North Dakota October 4-5, 2013.  Ahead of it, some locations received 2+ inches of rain, then temperatures dropped, winds picked up and the snow began.  When it was all done the snowfall totals were record or near record in many locations.  They included:
Lead – 55″
Deadwood – 48″ on the west side of town
Sturgis – 35″ on the east side of town
Piedmont – 35″
Rapid City – up to 31″ on the city’s southwest side
Spearfish – 26″ downtown

While officials are still totaling up the damage estimates, it is estimated the storm caused the deaths of over 20,000 head of livestock (cattle, sheep, and horses).  Nearly 10 days after the storm, some rural electric cooperative customers are still without power, making the disaster recovery efforts all the more challenging.  Colleagues at the South Dakota State University Extension Service detailed the events which contributed to these huge losses in this article: http://igrow.org/livestock/beef/understanding-what-happened/

If you would like to read a couple of firsthand accounts from a rancher’s perspective you can go to these links:

http://beefmagazine.com/disaster-amp-drought/rancher-details-gut-wrenching-pain-cattle-lost-sd-blizzard

http://beefmagazine.com/blog/early-south-dakota-blizzard-leaves-thousands-cattle-dead

For those of you who would like to help, here are a couple of links where you can find more information:

https://www.giveblackhills.org/27677

http://sdcattlemen.org/news.aspx?NewsID=648

https://www.facebook.com/ranchersrelieffund

Finally, I urge those of you reading this column to keep livestock producers and all those affected by the storm in your thoughts and prayers in the coming days.