South Dakota was greeted with a mid-March snowstorm on Sunday and Monday, dropping a half-foot of wet, heavy snow throughout the region.

Reports to the National Weather Service in the Mitchell area ranged from 6 to 7 inches of snow falling, mostly in the early hours of Monday, March 15. and forcing the closure of area schools.

The storm also caused some power outages in Mitchell and surrounding areas. As of 2 p.m. Monday, Central Electric Cooperative reported about 300 customers still without power, while about 350 customers of West Central Electric Cooperative in Lyman County were without power. NorthWestern Energy reported outages in Mitchell but did not specify how many homes were without power.

School was called off at districts around the state, and Dakota Wesleyan University was among the higher education institutions that canceled classes Monday.

Snow coats the trees on the Dakota Wesleyan University campus Monday, March 15, 2021, where classes were canceled following snowfall in Mitchell. (Marcus Traxler / Republic)
Snow coats the trees on the Dakota Wesleyan University campus Monday, March 15, 2021, where classes were canceled following snowfall in Mitchell. (Marcus Traxler / Republic)

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According to the National Weather Service office in Sioux Falls, a few locations in Gregory County reported some of the highest regional snowfall totals, with 11 inches reported near Herrick, 10.5 inches reported in Bonesteel and 9 inches of snow reported west of Pickstown. Nine inches were also reported west of Dimock, with 7 inches of snow in Plankinton.

The state high for snowfall was a reported 24 inches in Custer, along with 22 inches of snow reported near Hot Springs.

The storm is on track to be just the second snowstorm of the 2020-21 winter season to bring at least 5 inches of snow to Mitchell, as the city last received that much snow on Dec. 29, 2020. The city’s snowfall total for the season was reported at 25.4 inches, which is 11 inches behind the pace in 2020 at this time, when Mitchell had reported 36.3 inches of snow for the season.

The wet snowfall brings some much-needed precipitation to most of the state, which has been dealing with varying levels of drought to start 2021. Nearly all of western South Dakota was in a severe drought designation as of March 9, while south-central and eastern south Dakota were mostly either abnormally dry or dealing with moderate drought. Three to four inches of snow fell in the far southeastern corner of the state where farmers and growers were dealing with extreme drought.

Entering Monday, Mitchell had reported just 1.56 inches of precipitation since Jan. 1, which is about six-tenths of an inch below normal. About one-third of that total for the calendar year came just a few days ago, when 0.55 inches of precipitation was recorded in Mitchell on March 10 in a 4-inch snowfall.

Mitchell snow plowing is taking place on all city streets throughout the day Monday. Mitchell downtown district snow removal will take place late Monday, starting at 11 p.m. All vehicles must be moved from District A streets or they will be ticketed and towed.