SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Weather, weather and more weather. That was the story of the year. From flooding to blizzards to tornadoes – weather was the subject of eight of the 10 top stories on KELOLAND.com in 2019.
This year, you may have also noticed some changes to our website. We grew our digital team with the KELOLAND.com Original section, several KELOLAND.com reporters and Bob Mercer giving the day-by-day reporting from our Capitol News Bureau in Pierre throughout the legislative session and the year.
Here are the top ten most-viewed stories on KELOLAND.com in 2019:
In March, several families had to be rescued from a Sioux Falls neighborhood in the area of S. Minnesota Ave and W. Lotta Street.
Emergency crews are used boats to get to homes in the area. This was the only way they can get people out of their houses.
Sioux Falls realtor Melissa Peskey was shot and killed while driving on Interstate 70, near Boonville, Missouri back in 2018.
Six weeks later, in late January, KELOLAND Investigates talked to a friend of Peskey. She came forward with evidence that Melissa was afraid of her husband Ryan and appeared to be trying to divorce him.
The case remains unsolved.
Closed streets in severe March flooding made getting around Sioux Falls difficult for a couple of days.
KELOLAND News obtained the first aerial video of the damage across the City of Sioux Falls after three tornadoes touched down in September.
You could see the roof missing on part of Avera’s Behavioral Health and Heart Hospital buildings near 69th Street and Louise Avenue.
You could also see Advance Auto Parts and Plaza 41, where the tornado appeared to touch down in the middle of the buildings. There was extensive damage to Pizza Ranch, The Original Pancake House and Tuesday Morning.
A summer storm in the Black Hills during the 79th Sturgis Motorcycle Rally caused evacuations in Custer County. In early August, 7 inches of rain fell within a few hours causing severe flash flooding.
The American Red Cross opened a shelter and waters quickly receded.
15-year-old Jasmine Chheng was left lying along Interstate 29 in Lincoln County during the early morning of August 12. Jasmine was either walking or standing by the interstate when she was struck.
The initial story, as authorities tried to figure out who hit her, was the 5th most-read story of the year.
Chheng should have started her junior year at Washington High School. Instead, she was in a medically-induced coma in a Sioux Falls hospital room.
“We’ve followed up on a lot of leads. Had some pretty hopeful ones, so it does get frustrating. You want to get answers for the family, in the public and it’s discouraging when you can’t do that,” Lincoln County Sheriff Steve Swenson said.
In October, the then-16-year-old reached a new milestone in her long road to recovery. She moved to a rehabilitation hospital re-learning the simplest tasks we take for granted.
In October, Jasmine was awake but unable to speak.
“She knows what she wants and what she doesn’t want, like she’ll push us away and she moans a lot because they take the trach off of her and she moans, ‘Mmm,’ like a crying moan like that,” Jasmine’s mother Sanya Chheng said.
The crash has left Jasmine struggling to regain her motor skills. So, she undergoes five to six hours of therapy every day.
“They train her how to eat, to breath on her own, brush her teeth, but she still doesn’t know like, ‘Give me the ball;’ she still doesn’t know how to do that,” Chheng said.
Her mother said Jasmine doesn’t recognize any of the people closest to her.
The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department is still investigating the crash and is asking the public to share any information that could lead to an arrest.
Two people from South Dakota died after flash flooding hit in North Dakota.
Heavy rains in July washed away a culvert near Fort Yates, which is just a few miles north of the South Dakota border.
According to family members, Trudy Peterson was heading from her home in Mobridge to her job in Fort Yates. They say she probably never saw the road was washed away because it was dark and raining.
As the sun rose on Sept. 11, 2019 destruction from three tornadoes in South Dakota’s largest story came into a clearer view. The photo gallery filled with pictures from our team of reporters, photojournalists and viewers helped tell the story of the disaster.
Another gallery posted later in the day is tied for third place.
Weather was the story of the year. In early April, a major storm hit KELOLAND. From snow, hail, rain, freezing rain, sleet and thunderstorms, KELOLAND saw it all during the April storm.
Another photo gallery from our viewers captured your attention, this time a month earlier.
A winter storm in March 2019 dropped more than a foot of snow in some places, blizzard conditions shutting down the state and the start of major flooding.
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R-SD) signed an emergency declaration.
“The storms this week have been extremely difficult for many of our communities,” said Noem in March. “This has been a statewide emergency with people impacted by heavy snow, high winds, rain, and freezing rain.
You the viewers sent us a ton of photos from the storm.
From all of us at KELOLAND Media Group, thank you for choosing KELOLAND.com.