Well, it's official. I'm not a full-fledged South Dakotan yet.
Don't get me wrong. I like snow. I just don't think I was ready to have more snow on Oct. 10 than Oklahoma gets in most years. What made me realize I'm not official yet was when I woke up to find several inches of snow blowing into drifts around my neighborhood and seeing an announcement from the schools that school will be delayed a couple of hours instead of canceled. It was still snowing.
In Oklahoma, the forecast alone would have meant every school was closed. There is this funny system with winter weather — intense cold and wind, snow, or ice — or even severe weather in the spring — including potential daytime tornadoes — where certain superintendents wielded unique power. Typically, if they were leaders in major school districts like Oklahoma City or Tulsa, or the administrator who is least likely to cancel school in a given area, their decisions caused a domino effect. If Oklahoma City canceled, you knew that all the suburbs would follow. In central Oklahoma, every student would have left school Wednesday knowing that Thursday was off the table and Friday was a maybe.
In Rapid City, you only get two hours of extra sleep.
It isn't like I haven't dealt with snow before. I published four papers in south-central Kansas for seven years. We had all types of weather except hurricanes and haboobs, but there were times when a gulf hurricane held together and caused major issues with heavy rain.
I'll never forget when we first flew to Addis Ababa during our adoption process, and we left the Wichita airport just days before winter weather was expected to hit the area. While in my hotel in downtown Addis Ababa, I was burning up the Ethernet using a Microsoft Instant Messenger to coordinate early deadlines for all of my properties from eight times zones away. Coincidentally, we moved up our deadlines in Rapid City Wednesday evening to make sure our carriers could get the Journal delivered as quickly and safely as possible. We did such a good job of beating the snow that many readers didn't realize their Journal had actually been delivered and was simply covered by a blanket of snow.
Unlike many people, we have some of the best neighbors in the world. I got up ready to shovel snow off of my driveway so I could get to work only to find that one of my neighbors had already used a snowblower and had it completely clear. When I got downtown, people had already shoveled the sidewalks and parking lot. When I worked at other newspapers, snow meant that I was spending quality time with a shovel at my house and at the office. In South Dakota, they don't need an Okie with a snow shovel to help them clear snow. Clearly, I still have a lot to learn.
Thankfully, this week's wintry weather has moved on south, and now we are getting temperatures that remind us that autumn hasn't given up its time in the spotlight yet.
It was only 140 days between the last 1-inch snowfall of late spring and the first snow of the fall. Somehow, I don't think it will be 140 days until it happens again. Maybe by springtime, I will have more South Dakota street cred.
Kent Bush is the editor of the Rapid City Journal.