November 22, 2010

Storm upon Storm - Extreme is normal

Even in an agricultural state that has always prided itself on stoically accepting the offerings of unpredictable skies here at the heart of the continent, South Dakota is nearing the end of an unusually punishing year of weather.

In a recent storm, hail shattered windows, punched holes in roofs and mangled cars. The clumps of ice were left to melt, but one, an unusual spiked orb the size of a cantaloupe, was preserved in the freezer of an old ranch hand. Locals later claimed that it was not even the largest hailstone to fall that day, and added that it had shrunk a bit while in the freezer before electricity was restored. But when the official measurements were made — a record-setting 1.93 pounds and 8 inches in diameter — the results confirmed what the still-visible trail of damage had already made painfully apparent: that was some storm.


"The flooding is increasingly getting worse," said Mr. Knock, who lost 160 acres of corn to the river that parallels his property. "People are getting disgusted with it. Because it's not just some years and it's not just once a year. It's three times or four times a year. Extreme is normal — that sounds crazy, but that is how it is."

The seven presidential disaster declarations issued here — part of a record 78 nationwide so far this year — more than doubled the number in any previous year, naming all but 10 of the 66 counties as a disaster area; some many times over. 







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