This is my third winter in Rapid City, and last month turned out to be one of the snowiest and coldest here since records were first kept in 1888.

We got 20 inches of snow, the third biggest February snowfall. We also saw an average low temperature of 16.3 F, or -8.7 C, the sixth lowest in February.

These were due to below-normal sea surface temperatures in the eastern Pacific, which created a weather pattern that brought more storms in our area this winter, said a meteorologist from the National Weather Service.

IMG_7988
The likeness of U.S. President Grover Cleveland garbed in winter gear just before a snowstorm dumped 10 inches in downtown Rapid City on Feb. 18 and 19.

I’m learning more about the local weather trends. Last month, I began pitching in with my paper’s weather reporting since the newsroom has lost more than half its staff in the past 13 months.

My beat of cops and courts involves a lot of chasing people for interviews, and often hearing “No comment” or “Sorry, I can’t give out details” because: a) the matter remains under investigation b) the family of the deceased first needs to be informed c) the case is pending in court d) the judge issued a gag order e) we don’t issue media comments as a matter of office policy f) I’ve been instructed by my lawyer not to talk to reporters g) I’d like to maintain my privacy h) I’m busy.

Other times, I don’t get an explanation or people don’t return my call/email/text/social media message/handwritten note.

Meteorologists, on the other hand, have not refused me so far.

 

I’ve been able to find out as much as I can about snowfall measurements, high and low temperatures, wind speeds, weather predictions for the coming months and meteorological data from a century ago. That the weather service people in Rapid City have a  media line that is open 24/7 wins them bonus points.

It’s nice to be wanted, though I now have to learn to paraphrase meteorological terms such as Northwest Upper Level Flow pattern. (See Paragraph 3.)

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