How rare was that early blizzard in South Dakota?

Our autumnal weather in southern Wisconsin last week was tame in comparison to the devastating blizzard that hit the western portions of South Dakota earlier this month. On Oct. 4, Rapid City, S.D., approached its all-time single-day snowfall record when it received 19 inches, ranking it the third-snowiest day in the city’s history. Interestingly, the two record-setting days ahead of it occurred in late April (in 1970 and 2001).

The recent storm dropped 23.1 inches of snow over three days from Oct. 3-5, ranking it second all-time in that category. Once again, the first and third all-time were in April (1927 and 2013).

Not surprisingly, the 19 inches of snow that fell in Rapid City on Oct. 4 shattered the all-time single October day snowfall by more than 9 inches as the prior record occurred on Oct. 19, 1919, with 9.9 inches of snow. And even though we are only one-third of the way through October, Rapid City has already established its all-time October monthly snowfall record at 23.1 inches — a whopping 8 inches more than any other year.

At the time we were preparing this report, the Rapid City area was under the threat of a substantial rain event this past Friday. The combination of record amounts of snow, little time for it to melt in the intervening week and heavy rains just seven days later prompted flood warnings in the area with the possibility of serious damage to property and agriculture.

As we enjoy the beautiful fall days that this time of year often brings to southern Wisconsin, these weather phenomena close to home should remind us all that the coming of winter is inevitable.

Category: Meteorology

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