Friday, August 23, 2019

Eagle Butte
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Winter Storm Wesley shuts down the state; residents shovel and summon spring


Winter Storm Wesley swept across 455,000 square kilometers, dropping 30 inches of snow and impacting 3.9 million people according to Weather.com meteorologists.

Gov. Kritsi Noem shut down government offices April 9, 10 and 11 in most of the state’s 66 counties.

CRST Tribal Chairman issued and Department of Transportation’s Dakota Longbrake posted on the CRST Road Conditions Facebook page no travel bans throughout the reservation, warning once again that any non-essential employees on the roads who needed to be rescued would receive fines.

Many people, especially those living in the country, even if they could shovel their way from their drives to the road, were unable to travel on the initially unplowed roads. The hazardous conditions, although short-lived, created problems for some residents in need of emergency care, or who did not adhere to storm warnings and stock up for the predicted storm.

Plow crews were out Thursday as the storm let up some in the afternoon, but snowfall and winds filled in the plowed out thoroughfares again by Friday morning.

Cheyenne-Eagle Butte Teacher Dale McCrae said he shoveled his porch and a swath of the parking area in front of his trailer on Thursday, only to find his cars buried in snow up to the tires and his porch piled as high as it was the day before by mid-morning Friday.

Facebook was inundated with photos and videos of people whose vehicles were buried in snow drifts, and doors barricaded by snow.

Many ranchers reported working with their cattle in the unforgiving wintery conditions as calving could not be called off during the three-day storm.

The amount of snowfall from Wesley brought piles of snow that equaled the amounts captured in the long winter freeze that held its ground from January to the end of March.

This early April accumulation quickly melted as the temperatures steadily rose Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, allowing the melt to once again saturate the softening grounds.

As of Friday morning, more than 29,000 customers were without power due to ice throughout the five states impacted by Wesley, including South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Iowa, according to poweroutage.us and weather.com.

In the aftermath of the storm, damages will be assessed and addressed to already damaged roads and other infrastructure across the region.

Locally, schools have made adjustments to their schedules to ensure that students have the required of teacher/student minutes before the end of the school year in May.

Cheyenne-Eagle Butte schools have chosen to extend the school day through the end of the year, adding 20 minutes on to the morning and 10 minutes on to the afternoon of each day.

School starts for students at 7:45 a.m. and ends of 3:35 p.m. Times within the day have been adjusted to the new start and end times at each of the schools.

Students took letters home to parents about the change and were notified through the telephone reach system.

Court dates and medical appointments are going through yet another flux of rescheduling due shutdowns last week.

The consensus of people across CRST, the state and the region is that it is time for spring. Farmers are anxious to plant, ranchers are in the middle of calving season, and everyone in general seems ready to replace shovels with lawn mowers and snow pants with shorts.

 

On day two of Winter Storm Wesley, Dale McCrae, south Eagle Butte resident, shovels a path through the snow on his front porch after having done the same on day one. Photo by Jody Rust

By the second day of the April winter storm, the snowfall amounts and roadside mounds seemed equivalent to the amounts that had accumulated over the past several months. Photo by Jody Rust