An early fall snowstorm

By Jeff Smith

Snow falling at High Country Guest Ranch on Sept. 28. Snow and wind made for a cold day and it was only the seventh day of the autumn season.

Hill City nearly missed not receiving much snow but due to the fact that the area was in the below freezing mark allowed it to visit the area.

It started around 8 p.m. on Sept. 27. By the morning some parts around Hill City had received more than six inches. Hill City itself received four inches of snow. Areas north of Hill City received six and a half inches. The heaviest amount of snowfall was seen around Deerfield Lake.

According to the National Weather Service in Rapid City, since the area was cold there was a good amount of snow dumped. All the snowfall was done by midday last Friday.

The precipitation Rapid City received was just rain.

“Here in Rapid City we only got rain since we were just a little bit warmer than you guys,” said meteorologist Alzina Foscato.

There was only a few degrees difference between here and Rapid City. The low was between 32 degrees and 37 degrees for Hill City when it was snowing.

Foscato said a cold air mass came in overnight that had a lot of moisture with it.

There wasn’t enough snow to plow but the city public works department did treat the streets. Dan Pladson, public works director and his crew started just before 5 a.m.

There wasn’t much snow that stuck to the streets.

“It depended on the pavement and how warm it was,” Pladson said.

Some areas were pretty spotty with a couple of inches of snow.

For some spots salt was needed but when Pladson went back to some of the spots after the first salt was laid there wasn’t a need to do anything more.

Pladson, whos is new on the job as the public works director, hasn’t quite figured out if there will be two or three people on snow removal when it is needed.

He knows that the area by the school is the priority area and then they will work on the snowy hill areas. Two of the trucks they use are equipped with sanding equipment. The city uses a 2003 Ford F-450, a 2004 Ford F-450 and a Dodge Ram 5500 for snow removal.

The plan is to upgrade their fleet and purchase another Dodge Ram. The city has had trouble in getting that truck due to a dealership saying that new orders can’t go out in 2018.

Pladson has been working with a dealership to get quotes on different used vehicles. He thinks that a new truck won’t be able to be acquired until 2019.

The city plans to strictly enforce the ordinance that  establishes the requirement that property owners or occupants are responsible for removing snow/ice from sidewalks abutting their property lines. The sidewalks being filled with snow and ice for long periods of time have been a point of contention.

Pladson said that he plans to stick with clearing the sidewalks that the city is liable to keep clear. The only part of Main Street that the city has to keep clear is the lower Main Street sidewalk.

Pladson said there was a similar fight about sidewalks that occured in N.D.

He said it’s pretty normal in most areas for the property owners to take care of their own sidewalks.

There aren’t too many sidewalks in Hill City that the city has to keep clean. The areas that they do clean apart from the streets are parking lots and surrounding areas by city-owned buildings. The public works department clears snow at the senior center, the Visitor Information Center, City Hall, Tracy Park and the Boys & Girls Club. A Bobcat is used for the sidewalks.

The earliest that Hill City received snow in September was Sept. 1, 1974. Snow in late September is not too uncommon. Foscato said that most of the earliest dates for snowfall occurs around the Sept. 27 date or a week prior to that. Last year the first snowfall was Oct. 9.

According to climatologists, the area will have a warmer winter and there is an equal chance of having wetter or drier than normal precipitation amounts from October-December.