Snow storm hits in early October

It was beginning to look a lot like Christmas, but in early October.

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Posted Oct. 11, 2013


Pioneer Editor

It was beginning to look a lot like Christmas, but in early October.

Bowman County was coated in seven inches of heavy, wet snow over two days, beginning Oct. 4 – the first snow of the season. The dramatic snow was from a major early winter storm that wasn’t forecasted to affect the county too much, until it took a specific path through North Dakota.

Temperatures plummeted into the low 30s the night of Oct. 3, with wind gusting.

“We had briefings from the National Weather Service that there was something pending, but they couldn’t really tell us the severity until it started,” Bowman County Emergency Manager Dean Pearson said.

Pearson’s office did not activate the emergency operations center but remained on standby on its radio systems.

“We had some snow and stranded people, but most people were able to get where they were going to go or hold it out at the Frontier Travel Center,” he said. “We didn’t have any pending emergencies.”

At the same time snow fell around Bowman, neighboring Adams County faced an all-out blizzard, dumping more than 24 inches in 48 hours.

“We were in communication with the neighboring counties to the east and told them if they needed assistance, we were available. We would talk back and forth on the phone about different concerns. But we did not go over there and participate.”

Cattle deaths largely were reported around neighboring Adams County where snowfall amounts topped 24 inches.

Bowman County, however, did not receive reports of local cattle deaths, Pearson said Wednesday.

The unseasonable storm wasn’t the first to hit Bowman this early in the year. In 2005, there was an early fall ice storm that took some power lines and branches down around town.

“It doesn’t happen every year, but it has been known to happen in the past,” Pearson said. “This year, we just had the unfortunate situation where a lot of the leaves were still on the trees. Had it not been for that, I don’t think there would have been nearly the issue.”

A flood advisory was issued for Bowman and surrounding counties into the start of the week because nobody knew exactly where the heavy amounts of snow were laying, Pearson said.

“Depending upon how rapidly that snow melt occurred, it could have caused some small flooding areas,” he said. “I think a lot of this went straight into the ground.”

A no travel advisory was issued for Highway 85 to the South Dakota state line and Highway 12 into Adams County was closed.

“Mail delivery was very late on Saturday,” Bowman Postmaster Jason Hirst said.

Delivery went out Friday morning, but as the storm begin its trek around the state, the post office held all local mail for Amidon, Scranton, Rhame and Bowman.

“Our truck couldn’t get out of Bismarck to get down to us because of the road closures,” Hirst said.

Saturday’s mail, which was finally received at the Bowman office at 10:30 p.m. Saturday, was delivered the following Monday.

“I’ve seen things like that before, but not this early,” he said.

Paul Brooks, a mail carrier for 30 years, said he hasn’t seen a storm like that this early in the season and one that caused so much havoc with the mail.

Scranton Public School released students at 1:30 p.m. Oct. 4 due to the accumulating snow.

Several businesses around Bowman reported brownout conditions and closed early.

A total of 4,030 customers of Montana-Dakota Utilities (MDU) lost power during the storm, including 100 in Bowman, 215 in Scranton, five in Buffalo Springs and 20 in Gascoyne.

The areas north of South Dakota’s Black Hills that were hit hardest by the storm included Hettinger and Lemmon, S.D., which experienced more than 25 inches of snow and 1,885 power outages.

Several customers still may be without power due to damage beyond utility meters, said Mark Hanson, spokesperson for MDU.

Days after the storm, MDU was seen repairing electric transmission lines and quickly trying to restore power to its customers.

“Structures on transmission lines were damaged that brought electricity into the towns,” Hanson said.

Also responsible for the vast outages were fallen tree branches around the area broken by heavy snow accumulation.

“It’s way too early for me,” Bowman Police Chief Chuck Headley said of the snow.

The Bowman Police Department was called to the scene of a two-vehicle collision Oct. 4 that occurred at the intersection of East Divide and 2nd Street in Bowman.

One of the vehicles involved in the collision left the road following the impact and caused damage to residential property. No injuries were reported.While the collision wasn’t immediately due to the snow, Headley said the snow might have been cause of the vehicle leaving the road.

No other vehicle collision was reported to the Bowman Police Department.

Newby’s Ace Hardware in Bowman said they sold two generators and a dozen snow shovels during the storm.

The snow only stuck around until the beginning of the week in Bowman, when near 70-degree temperatures melted the remaining snow and reminded residents it was still autumn.



    Bryce. It looks like cattle in your area typically stay out in the weather including even more heavy wet snow than experienced last week and all winter, in even colder temperatures. (see above)

    Is this mass cattle death event an unusual one? When is the last time your area lost 20-30K animals in one night.

    I’m a student studying programs in Environment and Society as well as Journalism. I wrote a paper three years ago about rising levels of formaldehyde in the snow, and I spoke to a scientist from Duke University this summer who said that the levels now, three years later, are much higher. I wonder if it could be a factor? Are there going to be an autopsies?

  2. Well that is more logical. The story said it was in the low thirties. Still. don’t cows stay out in much colder weather? How man cows died? I read it got up to 70 degrees the next day?

    1. Andrea, the low recorded in Bowman County was 23 degrees. I cannot speak for Adams County, though I imagine it was somewhat similar. Ranchers reported dead cattle after the storm, so they likely perished that Friday and Saturday, Oct.4 and 5.
      – Bryce Martin, Pioneer Editor

  3. I think it odd so many cows perished in not even freezing weather when this has never happened before. Is it possible that the snow had a high formaldehyde content?

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