SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The year 2022 brought pockets of calm to South Dakota that were punctuated by two derechos, blizzards and ice storms across the state.
The year started out fairly quiet with nothing out of the ordinary or particularly remarkable in terms of weather events. KELOLAND meteorologist Adam Rutt said 2022 may feel like a more active weather year due to the intensity of the severe weather we experienced.
“2021 had its share of severe weather outbreaks, they were just a little bit more spread out,” Rutt said. “But we had those pockets of severe weather. They were just more frequent, but they weren’t as widespread as what we had seen. So, it kind of seems like in comparison 2021 really didn’t have much of a thing going on. It did, it absolutely did. It didn’t have the big headline makers that 2022 has had between the two derechos, the record setting rain and last week’s winter storm that just did not seem like it would end.”
Double trouble with spring derechos
After a calm start to the year, everything changed on May 12, 2022 when a 400 mile-long path of strong winds up to 107 mph swept across eastern South Dakota.
The storm pulled trees out of the ground across Sioux Falls, damaged the Salem nursing home and injured residents, and brought widespread damage to the Castlewood area due to an EF 2 tornado.
“We had that first derecho, the one in May, was what we call the ‘black derecho’ because of the clouds went pitch black and that was certainly,” Rutt said.
The derecho also claimed the lives of two women.
Sioux Falls Lincoln High School teacher Annie Lanning when a tree fell on her car. Family, friends, colleagues and former students remembered Lanning as a kind, welcoming member of the community.
Wendy Lape also died in the May 12 storm when debris from the storm went through the windshield of her car.
The damage from the May 12 derecho was so extensive that South Dakota received a Presidential Disaster Declaration allowing the Federal Emergency Managment Agency to provide help to 20 counties and two reservations.
As communities continued to recover from the May 12 storm, a second derecho hit just six weeks later.
“At the beginning of July, we had the green derecho where the sky infamously turned green as that move through, again, 90-100 mile per hour winds out of that one,” Rutt said.
The second derecho downed more trees and power lines and brought heavy rain and hail throughout the state.
With both derechos, the damage was largely contained to the eastern part of the state but central and western South Dakota didn’t come out unscathed.
“I remember when we were watching the green juried show in July, Pierre got in on some 80 to 85 mile per hour winds. So that was kind of a more widespread event,” Rutt said.
The rest of the summer was quiet and dry until August when Sioux Falls set the record for one-day record rainfall with five and a half inches of rain flooding the streets of Sioux Falls.
“We had those large stretches of just almost eerie silence where, for weeks on end, no rain, little cloud cover was just sunny and warm for a while. And I feel like winter is trying to make up for the fact that last winter was so easy, we really didn’t have much,” Rutt said.
December brings a lot of snow
Fall was quiet throughout South Dakota until the middle of December when the entire state experienced severe winter weather.
“Last week’s storm with upwards of an inch of ice and a couple of areas up to the northeast, days of snow and wind in central and western South Dakota, especially just hearing the stories of 10 and 20 foot drifts out in central South Dakota, which I can’t wrap my mind around,” Rutt said.
To the west, snowfall totals reached 48 inches in Cheyenne Crossing and Deadwood and even more towns receiving amounts in the 20- and 30-inch range.
But it wasn’t just the amount of snow that made last week’s storm impressive.
“Last week’s storm was just such an incredible event to watch not only for what it produced, but how long it stuck around. This was a five-day storm. We don’t typically get something like that there without having some kind of a blocking mechanism in place, which is exactly what we had just kind of stalled before finally moving on out of here,” Rutt said.
The snow and cold has been especially bad in south-central South Dakota where as of Monday, 120 families were without propane and pipes were freezing.
Rosebud Sioux Tribe officials tell KELOLAND News that so far five people have died throughout the course of the storm.
And now, more snow is on the way across the state along with bitterly cold temperatures.
For communities like Rosebud who are still trying to recover from last week’s storm, the added snow and cold is creating another obstacle for the tribe.
As severe winter weather continues to impact KEOLAND, you can stay up-to-date with the latest updates through the KELOLAND Storm Tracker App, KELOLAND News App, and on KELOLAND.com.