Moisture piling up around Newcastle

Alexis Barker, News Edtior
In the photo above by Amy Menerey, the sun pops out enough to melt a good deal of the snow accumulation
in Newcastle. While surrounding areas have been blanketed with substantial amounts of snow — including the
most recent storm that blew in on Monday and Tuesday,

It just keeps coming.


An anticipated 8 to 10 inches of snow between April 3 and 5 will add to the already significant snowpack in areas surrounding Newcastle. The snowstorm that began at midday on Monday will likely result in the area exceeding its April average of 5 inches of snow, according to Susan Sanders, warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Rapid City.


However, while the amount of snow that has fallen on the region is higher than than the norm, that isn’t necessarily the case for snowfall this winter inside Newcastle itself.


“So far this season (snowfall season starts July 1 and goes through June 30), Newcastle has received 24.6 inches of snow compared to the normal of 33 inches through the end of March,” Sanders said in an email. “That’s due mainly to the downsloping winds that really reduced your snowfall, especially in December when other stations around you have gotten a lot more.” 


She reported that through February, Gillette has received 71 inches, Devils Tower has 44.3 inches, Rochelle has received 41 inches, Upton has 46 inches, Edgemont 42.6 inches, Custer has received 47.2 inches, and Hill City has seen 53.1 inches. 


The significant amount of snow that has fallen in Northeast Wyoming and Southwest South Dakota is evident when looking at the April 1 Black Hills Snow Course Reading completed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Sundance. 


According to the April 1 report, both Little Bear Run and Mallo, the two closest areas to Newcastle included in the report, are sitting well above the 30-year median for snow water equivalent.

Snow water equivalent, or SWE, is a common snowpack measurement for the amount of water contained in the snowpack.


The report shows that all areas surveyed are above the 30-year median, and indicated that the SWE in inches range from 4.8 at Bear Lodge Divide to 10.1 inches in Reuter Canyon. The 30-year median for these areas are 1.1 inches and 7 inches, respectively. 


Mallo’s SWE is currently sitting at 9.5 inches, which amounts to 35.3 inches of snowpack. With a median of 5.9 inches of SWE, Mallo is sitting at 161% of the average. 


Little Bear Run currently has 5.2 inches of SWE, for 25.8 inches of snowpack, and with a median of 2.5 inches, the SWE is sitting at a whopping 208% of the average. 


As far as snow water equivalent across the Black Hills, Bear Lodge Divide has the largest percentage over average at 436%, while North Rapid Creek has the lowest percentage over average at 115%. 

Depth of the snowpack ranges from 14.5 inches at the Bear Lodge Divide to 35.3 inches at Mallo. 


This year’s report presents a drastic contrast to the one released at the same time last year. On April 1, 2022, no snowpack remained at Little Bear Run and therefore boasted no snow water equivalent while Mallo reported a paltry 0.6 inches of SWE. North Rapid Creek has the most SWE in 2022 with 4.2 inches, while Mount Tom, Little Bear Run and Bear Lodge Divide all had zero inches a year ago. 


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