SCOUTING YESTERDAY: Record snow storm pushes distressed Lyons man to set vehicle on fire
This week in South Dakota history: Nov. 8-14
Sioux Falls residents experienced the city’s 10th snowiest day 25 years ago —Nov. 10, 1998 — according to the National Weather Service. The 12.6-inch snowstorm narrowly edged out the 12.2-inch storm that dumped on the city in January 2023.
The 1998 storm was a record breaker for the city. According to the Argus Leader, it was the snowiest Nov. 10th in 102 years. Barometers also fell that day to a low of 28.91, making it the lowest pressure ever recorded in November, the previous record set in 1961.
It was that low pressure, a reading more likely to be associated with a summer thunderstorm, that meteorologists blamed for the extreme weather. The storm began with rain, lightning and thunder before switching over to a heavy wet snowfall that would close much of the state. Winds up 50 mph accompanied the precipitation, prompting winter storm and blizzard warnings.
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Gov. Bill Janklow closed Interstate 90 from Ellsworth to the Minnesota border and Interstate 29 from the Iowa border to the North Dakota border. Explaining his decision, he said, “We literally have dozens, if not hundreds, of stranded vehicles… The plows can’t go out. We have a huge public-safety mess.”
Sioux Falls police closed Minnesota Avenue north of Russell Street to the airport, which was also shut down during the storm. Between 20 and 30 passengers were stranded at the airport, some able to make it to local hotels while others hunkered down inside the terminal. The Sioux Falls Post Office abandoned delivery for the day as well.
Approximately 10,000 area residents were without power as a result of the weather. The heavy snow, ice and wind combined with the fact that utility workers were restoring power instead of aiding in snow removal as usual left many city streets unplowed for days.
Sioux Falls Mayor Gary Hanson had expected emergency routes and another 60 miles of priority streets to be cleaned the day of the storm, according to the Argus Leader. Total cost for cleaning up the city’s streets was estimated at $200,000.
About 45 plows and dump trucks were working to clear the streets, but Tom Donohue, who lived on an emergency route in western Sioux Falls, reported that his road was still untouched a day later. Other residents met the situation with understanding. LeRoy Zafft, who had driven to work the day after the storm, said, “The roads weren’t plowed, but I don’t think they should have been… It was snowing and blowing so much it wouldn’t have done much good.”
Perhaps the most frustrated by the storm was a rural Lyons man whose car got stuck trying to get out of his driveway days after the snowfall. He attempted to lift the car with his Bobcat, which in turn flipped over. It was that failed attempt to free his car that led the man to light his own car on fire.
Assistant Sheriff Bruce Swan, who responded to the incident along with three Minnehaha County deputies and the Lyons Volunteer Fire Department, said, “We were concerned about his bizarre behavior, but it was his own car on his own property. …It just wasn’t his day.”
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