January 4, 2014 at 6:57 pm #2095MikeKeymaster
100,000 Cows Freeze to Death in Freak Record-Breaking Snowstorm
by Susan BirdOctober 14, 2013 5:30 pm
Tens of thousands of cattle perished in a freak nowstorm during the first weekend in October in Wyoming, Montana and South Dakota. That’s incredible, and yet the story is getting surprisingly little attention.
An unexpectedly early and brutal blizzard struck states from the Northern High
Plains to the Rocky Mountains on October 4th and 5th, leaving up to five feet of
snow on the ground. The storm’s howling winds proved to be a death knell for an
estimated 75,000 to 100,000 defenseless cattle.
First the poor creatures were pelted with rain, 12 hours of it, until their
coats were waterlogged. Then came 48 hours of snow, 60 to 70 mph winds and
freezing temperatures. Cattle wandered, cold, wet, covered with ice and
confused. They huddled together at fence lines for warmth. Snow drifted to
heights of 10 feet or more. Eventually, the cattle dropped where they stood, by
the thousands, and the snow buried them.
In the aftermath, bodies were everywhere. Black hooves and legs stuck up out of
the snow, grotesquely marking the spots where cows and calves finally collapsed
and froze to death.
“They’re in the fence line, laying alongside the roads,” Martha Wierzbicki,
emergency management director for Butte County, S.D., told the Billings Gazette.
“It’s really sickening.”
The unfortunate cows were ill-equipped to face this sudden snow because they
hadn’t grown their winter coats yet. Compounding the problem, the weather’s been
good recently, so ranchers hadn’t yet moved the cattle to their wintertime
grazing locations which tend to have more gullies and trees. The cows were still
in their open, flat summer pastures at this time of year, which is normally as
it should be.
Heavy, sustained blizzards during the first week of October just don’t happen in
South Dakota and Wyoming. Only days earlier, temperatures had been in the 80s.
The odd weather, dubbed “Winter Storm Atlas,” caught ranchers flatfooted.
It’s not that they didn’t want to take care of their cattle. They did — those
animals are their livelihood, after all. This storm was a record-breaker,
however. It defied weather predictions and hit with unexpected force and
longevity. Ranchers simply didn’t have time to move their cattle to more
“It’s bad. It’s really bad. I’m the eternal optimist and this is really bad,”
60-year-old rancher Gary Cammack told the Associated Press. “The livestock loss
is just catastrophic…. It’s pretty unbelievable. It’s the worst early season
snowstorm I’ve seen in my lifetime.”
“It’s not uncommon at this point to find cattle that are five miles from where
they should be,” rancher David Uhrig told the Billings Gazette. “Which doesn’t
seem like a lot, but to drift five miles in a storm — that’s a lot.”
The devastation affects approximately 6,000 ranching operations. Some ranchers
have yet to find any of their cattle alive, according to reports. Experts are
calling it South Dakota’s worst economic crisis in decades. Sadly, many of these
cows had just been brought to this area from Texas to escape drought conditions
With the federal government in shutdown mode, the problem is made infinitely
worse. The employees of federal agencies which the affected ranchers would turn
to for information and advice are furloughed. They want to help but they can’t.
It’s worth noting that some federal workers were allowed to do their jobs during
this epic snowstorm, and did so admirably. When roads became impassible,
dedicated employees of the National Weather Service in Rapid City, S.D.,
actually hiked to work in the blizzard. They remained at their office around the
clock for the entire weekend in order to get lifesaving weather information out
to the public. Of course, they weren’t being paid at the time and still aren’t.
In the absence of federal government help in this crisis, all the ranchers can
do for the moment is sort out whose cattle are whose and get the carcasses
disposed of before they rot where they lie.
Some wonder whether the arrival of a storm this catastrophic so early in the
season is yet another red flag waving frantically to alert us that climate
change is real and is happening all around us. For example, ClimateCentral.com
indicates in a response to a comment about this snowstorm, “[U]nusually heavy
snowstorms like this one, which broke all-time records, are not inconsistent
with what we’re already seeing due to manmade global warming—increased extreme
This bizarre weather incident may simply be an aberration. Odd things happen,
after all. On the other hand, last year at this time, South Dakota was worried
about drought conditions.
Could Winter Storm Atlas be yet another symptom of the inexorable advance of
climate change? Is wacky, unpredictable killer weather becoming more and more
common, or are we just noticing it more these days?
(How about HAARP / chemtrail weather modification? – MC)
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