KATIE ZERR: Respect Mother Nature’s rage and beauty


The landscape exploded in various shades of green this week as Mother Nature flashed her temperamental side and unleashed rain onto the plains of South Dakota.

After many months of below normal precipitation, the Mobridge area was graced with the “million-dollar rain” for which area Ag producers have been praying.

In fact, some have said it was a perfect rain. For the ranchers in our area who had contemplated selling their herds because pastures were dry and stock dams were empty, the rain came fast and furious on Saturday. Heavy rains, up to four or five inches southwest of Mobridge, fell in a short period, causing creeks to overflow and stock dams to fill with runoff. Keeping calves dry and healthy may become a problem, but sunshine and warmer weather near the end of the week should help.

Although the dry ground did not soak up mush of Saturday’s moisture, it was followed by a steady, slow rain over the next few days that soaked into the wet ground, replenishing the water supply to the grasses in the pastures.

The wind-driven rain on Saturday hit after area farmers were able to spend some time in fields getting the crops planted, but the deluge may cause a few bald spots and overseeded stretches where rain washed out the low lying areas.

The steady rains in the days that followed brought much- needed moisture to other areas on farms, including shelterbelts and CRP plots.

Area volunteer firefighters are breathing a sigh of relief as the extremely dry conditions that promised a busy fire season have been dampened, at least for now.

According to Dan Jost of the South Dakota Department of GF&P, the heavy rain that fell will probably have little impact on the nesting pheasant population, as it is “early in the game.” The hens are just beginning to nest and if the heavy downpour compromised some nests, those hens will start over and build a new nest.

As levels of Lake Oahe rise with the runoff from the storms in North and South Dakota, Jost said that would benefit the walleye and smelt spawn. The water temperatures may have cooled down a bit, but that will impact the incubation period of the eggs by a day or two, said Jost.

Some areas southwest of Mobridge near Parade and Lantry, received anywhere from five to seven inches of rain. Flash flooding occurred, but there were no reports of heavy damage or injuries.

For the most part, Walworth, Campbell, Corson and Dewey counties received anywhere from three to four-inch totals in the past five days. Now sunshine is needed to urge seedlings to push their heads from under the soil and turn the black dirt of area fields to lush green carpets of crops.

As the skies exploded and buckets of rain fell so quickly it obscured visibility, one was reminded of the thunderstorms of our youth that have become few and far between in recent years. Thunder, lightening and quick downpours were followed by rolled up jeans, toothpick regattas in the gutters and the building of mud ramps along the matchbox highways in the sandbox.

Mother Nature provides, as she did in this area this week, but she also destroys as she did in Oklahoma. The awesome power of the storm that ripped apart the city of Moore, Okla., and the lives of its residents is a reminder that awe of the beauty of Mother Nature must be accompanied by a respect for her power and rage.

Prayers and assistance for those who lost everything in Moore will be greatly appreciated. Those of us in this area who benefited from the rain need to remember the fury that could be unleashed in South Dakota.

As the concern for what the summer of 2013 could have been has lessened a bit by this weather event, we are not yet out of the woods as far as the drought is concerned.

Mother Nature is fickle and temperamental. We must respect both.

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