SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — With more than three feet of snow across much of KELOLAND this winter, the continued snowfall is wearing down even life-long South Dakotans. And it’s a harsh welcome for many people who are new to the state.
“Is there a trick I’m missing out on?” Riley Key said while shoveling his new driveway.
This is Alabama native Riley Key’s third winter in South Dakota.
“At first it was kind of cool, I loved the snow, it’s really pretty,” Key said.
But now that it’s his first winter as a homeowner…
“Use the legs, use those glutes,” Key said while shoveling.
…He looks at all of this snow a little differently.
“Now I kind of want to cry,” Key said. “When you see it hit your driveway, it’s like how much are we getting and how much do I need to stay up to get the driveway out of the way.”
Shoveling is one of many new skills he’s had to learn with his move north.
“When I first moved up here, I had the opportunity to work at Great Life and they asked me to salt the sidewalks and to be honest, I didn’t even know what that meant. Do you just shake salt out everywhere…. What does that look like?” Key said.
But he says the biggest challenge was learning how to drive in the snow.
“I had a friend compare driving to mudding and I don’t think it made any more sense to an Alabama kid like me,” Key said.
“Alright got to turn into the skid, even it out,” new South Dakotan Ian Konsker said.
It’s a skill Ian Konsker has had to learn very quickly after moving to Sioux Falls just before Thanksgiving for his job as the new veterinarian at the Great Plains Zoo.
“I came here from living in Galveston, Texas, which is a little island, pure beach the entire strip all the way down,” Konsker said.
A huge contrast from his first experience with winter in South Dakota.
“It was my second week here when we hit negative 50,” Konsker said. “I like the trial by fire; it’s a fun learning curve for sure.”
“My wife actually ordered a thermostat that day,” Key said.
During that extreme cold snap, Riley and his wife got their own learning curve as homeowners while trying to install a new thermostat.
“The furnace ended up going out,” Key said. “We spent quite some time before we found a 24-hour electrical service.”
“I have bought more clothes since moving here than I have the majority of my adult life,” Michelle Tetley said.
Like Konsker, Michelle Tetley also moved to Sioux Falls this year for a job at the Great Plains Zoo.
The job she loves…
“This past week is the most snow I’ve seen in my entire life,” Tetley said.
…but the native Texan never imagined she’d have such a big obstacle to manage while working with the animals.
“I’m 5′ 2″and there are some snow drifts that I’m barely taller than,” Tetley said. “The Texan in me is struggling a little.”
There are some animals at the zoo experiencing their first South Dakota winter too. Euocee is a red wolf who just came to Sioux Falls from Texas.
“They’re adjusting really well,” Konsker said. “They’ve done a great job of adapting to the weather.”
But unlike the animals who have a natural coat to handle the cold and snow, these new South Dakotans are learning the human trick to surviving winter.
“I have four or five layers on right now, that’s been my secret has been layer up for sure” Konsker said.
“Proper footwear has been a big thing, the rest of my body will be fine, but if my feet, if they get wet then it’s kind of game over for me,” Tetley said.
“If it’s your first year in South Dakota winter, I would invest in warm clothes immediately,” Key said.
While they’re all learning to make the most of their move to snowy South Dakota.
“I had the opportunity to go to Great Bear, I think I’ll stay on the bunny hill,” Key said.
This harsh winter is making all of them feel a little home sick.
“I love South Dakota dearly, but I definitely would take the Alabama winters over it,” Key said.
“I love the snow, right now that’s great, but the negative 50 and the wind have me rethinking,” Konsker said. “Texas winters, I’ll take South Dakota summers, but Texas winters,” Tetley said.
And that’s exactly why we have so many snowbirds who do just that.