BISMARCK, North Dakota — Flooding, freezing, fresh snow and even a funnel cloud. The Dakotas saw it all over the weekend and into the beginning of the work week, amazing even longtime weather forecasters and farmers.
"To combine all of them together into one group — severe weather with hail reports one day, followed by snowfall accumulations, with flooding throughout the storm, and high winds associated with the storm moving out — I've never seen that this time of year in my history here, and I've been here about 30 years," National Weather Service forecaster Bill Abeling in Bismarck said Monday.
A system that moved into the Northern Plains from the Rocky Mountains drew up moisture from the Gulf of Mexico and at the same time pulled down cold air from Canada, Abeling said. Much of North Dakota and South Dakota saw cool temperatures and heavy rain throughout the weekend. Rapid City, South Dakota, saw a record 1.09 inches of rain on Friday, and Jamestown, North Dakota, had a record 2.6 inches on Sunday, according to weather service data.
The rainfall led to street and underpass flooding in some cities and the flooding of some rivers and creeks in rural areas. There were no immediate reports of damage, though an Interstate 90 rest stop near Wasta, South Dakota, had to close on Saturday and an Interstate 94 underpass near Horace, North Dakota, had to be shut down early Monday due to flooding.
The system also brought strong winds — with gusts up to 54 mph in southwestern South Dakota and up to 71 mph in northern North Dakota — and weather service meteorologists in Aberdeen, South Dakota, reported a funnel cloud in that area Sunday. Snow fell late Sunday and early Monday in parts of North Dakota — including several inches in the north central part of the state, where state officials issued a travel alert to caution motorists.
The moisture was welcome as the two states continue to recover from widespread drought earlier in the spring, but the snow and nighttime freezing weather that is forecast for the next couple of days throughout North Dakota and in northern and east central South Dakota has some ranchers concerned.
"I'm worried about our baby calves out there," said Maxine Rognlien, who has ranched for three decades with her husband John, in North Dakota's McHenry County, which saw heavy rain followed by snow. "Luckily there are trees and hills to kind of protect them and hopefully they're doing OK, but it sure is bright and cold this morning. I haven't seen this much snow, this late."
Jason Zahn, who farms and ranches in the same area, said the wind and snow late Sunday combined for near-blizzard conditions, though he expects most calves "are going to fare all right."
"It was pretty nasty here; you couldn't see hardly anything," he said. "It's pretty unusual to get an inch and a half of rain, get it all muddy, and then get snow. It's tough to get around."
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