South Dakota Weather

A columnist with The Daily Republic in Mitchell, South Dakota recalls a particularly nasty cold spell in his latest article. He discusses Watertown and the editor of the town paper.

Years and years ago — and when I say that I’m taking a trip not only to the 1970s but also to the season of winter in those far gone times — a strong and stubborn cold snap grabbed South Dakota by the throat in early January and didn’t let go until the last few days of February.

I don’t remember the year. It might have been 1975, when the Legislature adjourned into the teeth of a blizzard and those who weren’t out of town early in the morning of the last day were around Pierre for an extended weekend. What I remember are the reports from the homefront that Alex Johnson, longtime editor of the Watertown Public Opinion and one of South Dakota journalism’s really decent people, brought back to the state Capitol after weekends.

The year I remember, Watertown caught the brunt of the frigid weather, going for long stretches of days without a thermometer reading above zero. During that cold snap, Alex walked into the Associated Press bureau with his coffee cup, as he did most mornings during session, and told us he wasn’t sure he would go home again until the cold spell lifted.

“People are just plain sick of the cold, sick of winter and not much fun to be around,” Alex said. “This weather has changed the temperament of the whole town. I’m not kidding. I told a friend that the temperature in Pierre last Friday was 10 above, and I thought he was going to hit me.”

The writer’s memories were prompted by the weather in Pierre and watching his granddaughter play.

The change in weather, the simple appearance of the sun, lifted a lot of spirits that had been pretty gray the previous gloomy, dripping afternoon.

Pretty amazing what power a little sunshine and some green grass can have.


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