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Winter full of storms leads to higher-than-average snowfall

Blizzard Feb 22.jpg
South Dakota Highway Patrol
A photo from the South Dakota Highway Patrol posted Feb. 22 showing road conditions during a blizzard in eastern South Dakota.

Over the course of the winter, South Dakota has been hit by multiple significant winter storms that brought white-out conditions.

Because of this, Sioux Falls National Weather Service meteorologist Andrew Kalin is reporting higher-than-average snowfall in much of the state as of this week.

“Here in Sioux Falls we’re about 20 – just a little over 25 inches above normal," Kalin said. "Huron is about 10 inches above normal. Aberdeen right around 15to 16 inches above normal. Then Rapid City right around 17 to 18 inches above normal through the date.”

Kalin said snowmelt will help the drought, but there’s a lot of catching up to do for the parched soil.

“If we look at the amount of water liquid in the snowfall that has also been above normal," Kalin said. "That is a change over the previous couple of winters, though looking at the deficit we’ve gained over the last few years or winters, the amount of above normal liquid still does not fully alleviate the drought or the deficit.”

But springtime will be the real test of the drought’s durability.

“Some of it will depend on, as we go into the spring months, how much is able to soak into the soil versus running off, but obviously we’ve all been looking for moisture so that has been a welcome sign,” Kalin said.

Some meteorologists have predicted 2023 as an El Nino year. El Nino is a climactic pattern in the Pacific Ocean that typically leads to cooler, wetter springs in North America.

C.J. Keene is a Rapid City-based journalist covering education, healthcare, arts and culture.