South Dakota Residents Not Bothered by Heavy Snow

October 16, 2013

LEAD, S.D. — Parts of the northern Black Hills have received more than 6 feet of snow in less than two weeks, but residents say they're taking it in stride.

"We are as tough as shoe leather," Deadwood resident Mary Kopco told the Rapid City Journal. "I mean, we have to be."

(MORE: Photos from Winter Storm Atlas)

An early October storm dumped more than 4 feet of snow in some areas, and more snow fell early this week. There are reports of more than 80 inches of snow in some spots.

"To me, it is what it is," Lead resident Joe Bailey said as he cleared a sidewalk on Main Street. "You live in South Dakota and you live a mile high — you kind of have to expect some of it."

Cars are buried in snow at a car dealership in Spearfish, S.D. on Oct. 6, 2013. (iWitness weather user: Guzva84)

Snow removal crews in Lead worked around the clock during the past week, and the city issued travel advisories and is seeking a disaster declaration. Still, snow storms are just part of the lifestyle, said Mayor Jerry Apa, who has lived in the town since 1972. In the record-setting winter of 1993-94, Lead got more than 30 feet of snow.

"We've had mild winters, and we've had tough winters," Apa said. "We just roll with the punches."

"We South Dakotans are self-sufficient," he added. "We don't wait for the government to do it. We all pitch in and do it together. Today's just another day in paradise."

Still. this October's snowfall is a little unusual, even in Deadwood, which averages more than 20 feet of snow annually.

(MORE: October's Increasingly Snowy Reputation)

"I've never seen this much snow, not this regular and not this early," Deadwood Public Works Director J.R. Raysor said. "I mean, geez. People are already sick of it and it's only the 15th of October. It's still fall. Come to South Dakota. See our beautiful fall colors — white."

Nonetheless, Raysor said South Dakotans tend to be doers and not complainers.

"This is our South Dakota spirit," he said. "I talked to a guy where I hunt near Lemmon, and he lost a pile of cattle in this blizzard. His attitude was, 'I'm better off than my neighbor is.' That's how South Dakotans think. We're always willing to help out because we know someone always has it tougher than we do. That's how it works here."

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