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The arrival of spring calving season across western South Dakota is renewing hope for ranchers still reeling from last October’s blizzard.
The storm, dubbed “Atlas” by The Weather Channel, took a huge toll on ranchers, especially those in the western half of the state. The two-day storm first brought rain before dumping up to 4 feet of snow in some places. Calves due to be sold were killed, as were cows that would have birthday this year’s calves.
In the end, tens of thousands of cattle died in the storm, killing up to 50 percent herds in some cases.
Early estimates put the cost of the blizzard to the area economy at upwards of $1.7 billion. Donations from across the country quickly poured in, with ranchers from other states offering to donate hundreds of bred cattle and heifer calves to their South Dakota brethren.