South Dakota Blizzard Winter Storm Atlas leaves devastation for ranchers

There hasn’t been much national media coverage of it, most likely due to coverage of the government shutdown, but Winter Storm Atlas took a huge toll on folks in western South Dakota earlier this month. With reports of up to 58″ of snow and almost hurricane-force winds, South Dakotans were struck hard with an early-season blizzard of historic proportions.

South Dakota October Blizzard Winter Storm Atlas Stories News Resources Blogs

Impacts of Winter Storm Atlas on Livestock

Amid all of the difficulties this much snow brings, shutting down I-90 and paralyzing towns, many ranchers took a direct blow from the storm. Estimates are that upwards of 70,000 cattle, horses, and livestock perished in the storm. That means many ranchers lost all of this year’s calf crop and a good majority of their cow herds.

Many livestock were out on Summer and Fall ranges, sometimes miles from winter pastures where shelter is better suited for winter storms. Even horses and livestock in pens closer to the house perished in the feet of snow, strong winds, and cold that came this early in the season. Many cattle trailed with the wind and when they found shelter, many were buried when the snow drifted and covered them. In most cases, there wasn’t much that could be done.

Now, ranchers face the difficult task of documenting their losses and cleaning up the carcasses. The images, videos, and stories coming out of the region are graphic. I’ve encountered many losses in ranching, having several cattle at once struck dead by lightning, but I cannot imagine what it must be like to see dead cattle and horses strung out for more than 100 miles. Devastating.

Relief Following Winter Storm Atlas

There has been a Ranchers Relief Fund established by the South Dakota Stockgrowers, South Dakota Cattlemen’s, and South Dakota Sheep Growers Associations to aid the folks impacted by this storm. Federal aid, if any at all, will likely be delayed due to the squabbles occurring in Washington D.C. Please consider helping in any way you can. Even if that means offering up a few words of encouragement and support to these ranchers through social media.

South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association has a Storm Resources page that is being continually updated. The South Dakota Extension has continual updates and resources listed on their page.

Here is a brief list of stories I have seen posted covering the storm from South Dakota. Images of livestock carcasses are graphic, but it is the reality of this storm.

Media Coverage of South Dakota Winter Storm Atlas

Blogger Perspectives on the South Dakota Blizzard and Aftermath

There are many more links and stories out there about the South Dakota October Blizzard. If you have any links, please share them below in the comments section. Again, I’ll remind you, if you can, please consider helping in any way you can and pass along word of the Ranchers Relief Fund.

Updated links covering Atlas Blizzard and Aftermath

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