Ripped apart: examining the effect of two tornados that touched down in the northern Black Hills

BLACK HILLS, S.D. — Living in the Black Hills you come to expect the weather to change at any given moment.

This last week, two tornadoes touched down in the northern Black Hills who are still cleaning up the damage.

A natural disaster like this isn’t just dangerous during the storm, the strong winds produced by a tornado can leave trees unstable and strewn about. Days later, residents and National Forest Service Officials are working to clean up the area.

“You look back to the past for 20 years we have had this (Rocky) Mountain Pine Beetle epidemic there is still standing dead trees out in the forest, and so wind events that come up blow trees over every day,” said Scott Jacobson, a Public Affairs Officer of the Black Hills National Forest. “So when we get a tornado that comes through, it weans trees, obviously it twists a lot of trees off and we get a lot of downed trees, but there is still a lot of standing trees that can still fall.

Spearfish Canyon took the brunt of the storms this past week. Homeowners and businesses in the area aren’t unfamiliar with these kinds of storms, as they say, living in South Dakota comes with the chance for severe weather.

“That’s one thing with living in the Black Hills here it happened two years ago in June, we had a tornado come through and hail damage and it damaged a lot of the buildings and everything and we just got all that damage repaired last summer,” said Scott Betten, the General Manager of Spearfish Canyon Lodge. “Now we are thankful that this one was just trees and not our buildings as well.”

The Black Hills National Forest and Spearfish Canyon Lodge make the most of these fallen trees. The lodge turns its fallen trees into mulch and The National Forest service works with the timber industry to salvage the trees and repurpose the wood.

Categories: Local News, South Dakota News