SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The transition from winter to spring is on full display each April, but often the snow and cold hang on longer than we’d prefer… sometimes with devastating results. Sunday (April 9) marks ten years since a massive ice storm hit Sioux Falls and the surrounding area.

April 9, 2013, an ice storm sent tens of thousands of branches crashing to the ground in Sioux Falls.

“Sounded like a whole forest coming down at once, like an avalanche. There was a lot of snap, crackle, and pop, and stuff went everywhere,” Jason Wicks said in 2013.

Trees tumbled to the ground, landing on anything in their path.

“It sounded like a big car accident is what it sounded like,” Kenny Mays said in 2013.

And power poles were quick to follow.

“I heard a loud (noise) and it went right across my son’s swing set and our fence and everything fell, so it was very scary to watch,” Amanda Hanten said in 2013.

“We had a storm that produced literally a half an inch to an inch thick of glaze on trees and power lines and everything else,” KELOLAND meteorologist Brian Karstens said.

KELOLAND meteorologist Brian Karstens says the day’s forecast was calling for ice, but predicting an ice storm of this magnitude is tricky.

“You obviously have to melt whatever’s coming down out of the cloud and then it has to refreeze on the objects on the surface, so you have to keep the temperature 32 or lower and all of that balancing act is usually a tough thing to sustain over a long period of time,” Karstens said.

An icy act that played out perfectly in the Sioux Falls area.

“It was literally about a 20- to 30-mile wide band of ice. I remember south of Canton it wasn’t nearly as bad, but it just happened to cut right through the Sioux Falls metropolitan area and as a result the volume of damage was very high,” Karstens said.

“It really affected every resident of the city with the number of power losses, business closures, school closures,” City of Sioux Falls Emergency Manager Regan Smith said.

Regan Smith has been the City of Sioux Falls Emergency Manager for 23 years.

“There were definitely three or four days where it was difficult to get around in some areas of town and dangerous, there were power lines down, trees down restricting access, very, very slippery and then a few days later we had I think six inches of snow,” Smith said.

Smith says 53,000 residents lost power during the storm.

“At one point, there were over 1,000 individuals working on the cleanup and the restoration of power,” Smith said.

900 fallen trees and 25,000 branches were included in the cleanup, which came to be known as Operation Timber Strike.

“Over 50 contractors, both local and national came together, Xcel Energy, the State of South Dakota provided inmates, Wildland Firefighters, the Department of Transportation,” Smith said.

“All the way from the federal level down to the local level, volunteers, churches, groups that just pitched in, neighbors helping neighbors and it’s kind of the response that you would expect out of folks from Sioux Falls,” Director of Parks & Recreation Don Kearney said.

Don Kearney is the Director of Parks & Recreation.

“Driving by McKennan Park, looked like a bomb had gone off, trees everywhere,” Kearney said.

He says there’s a silver lining to losing those historic trees.

“We understand the importance of having a diversified tree resource, making sure they’re trimmed up and properly pruned, and trying to encourage property owners to do that on their private property as well,” Kearney said.

The overall cleanup took eight months, with the city of Sioux Falls split into quadrants.

“We set up drop sites in each of the quadrants across the city for both residents and commercial drop-offs,” Smith said. “Those drop sites were also staffed. We were having to weigh debris and that type of thing for federal reimbursement, so there were a lot of moving parts in this,” Smith added.

55 tons of debris ended up at the drop sites.

The final cost of the cleanup was $8.25-million, $6-million of which was reimbursed by FEMA.

And if the same storm hit today…

“You could probably almost double that,” Smith said. “That’s a pretty significant event,” Smith added.

City parks in Sioux Falls didn’t reopen until May 22nd due to the early April ice storm.

Smith says the final storm-related cleanup didn’t take place until December 13th, 2013.