THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Blizzards rolled into parts of Wyoming and South Dakota on Friday, bringing the snow-savvy states to an unseasonably early winter standstill and forcing a tourist town to cancel its annual Octoberfest’s polka-dancing bar crawl.
The storm dumped 33 inches of snow in a part of South Dakota’s scenic Black Hills near Lead, “and it’s still coming down,” National Weather Service meteorologist Eric Helgeson said Friday afternoon.
Wind gusts reached as high as 68 miles per hour just outside the weather service office in downtown Rapid City, where 8 inches of snow had accumulated, Helgeson said.
In northwest Nebraska, three people were killed in an accident on snow-slicked U.S. 20 Friday morning, authorities said. The storm system also generated a tornado in Nebraska, blanketed Colorado’s northern mountains with snow and was threatening to push strong thunderstorms as far east as Wisconsin. Forecasters said the cold front would eventually combine with others to make for a wild, and probably very wet, weekend for the central U.S. and Southeast.
Julie Lee said she and fellow members of her White Rose Band were accustomed to snow, just “not for the fourth of October.” They had barely unloaded their instruments in South Dakota’s Old West casino town of Deadwood before the wet, heavy snow started falling and closed part of Interstate 90, the area’s only interstate.
“Our car is like an igloo,” said Lee, who sings and plays the clarinet and saxophone for her North Dakota-based polka band. “I’m glad we got everything out.”
The weather, which even forecasters said was rare, prompted Deadwood officials to postpone their annual Octoberfest, including Friday night’s dancing-and-singing pub crawl and Saturday’s Wiener Dog Races and Beer Barrel Games. But Lee said she and her accordion-playing husband, who had planned to set up in a casino bar, would entertain stranded guests because “you can only gamble for so long.”