First Snow in South Dakota: The Earliest & Latest First Snows on Record

Written by August Croft
Updated: January 24, 2023
Share on:

Advertisement


Do you know when the first snow in South Dakota typically falls? How much snow does South Dakota see in an average winter season, and what can you expect out of visiting this state as well as living in it? Marked by its low population density and sprawling plains, South Dakota is a serene and somewhat desolate location with plenty of wildlife and natural beauty. 

In this article, we will go over some of the average snowfall dates and amounts that South Dakota typically experiences. We will also address some of the most extreme storms and snowfall amounts on record, including years where only a minimal amount of snow fell. Let’s get started and talk all about snowfall in South Dakota now! 

Understanding First Snow in South Dakota

first snow in south dakota

According to multiple sources as well as people who live in South Dakota, snow is common throughout the months of November through January.

©Jacob Boomsma/Shutterstock.com

South Dakota Snow
Earliest First SnowfallSeptember 9
Latest First SnowfallNovember 10
Average Temperature5-38 degrees Fahrenheit
Largest Average Snowfall94 inches (1968-1969)
Smallest Average Snowfall5 inches (1930-1931)
Places to Enjoy the SnowSioux Falls, Black Hills National Forest

No matter where you live in South Dakota, you would likely experience some snow levels during the winter time. Depending on the season and amount of precipitation, South Dakota can experience nearly 100 inches of snow in a single winter season! However, some years are less extreme than others, with the smallest average snowfall occasionally yielding less than 10 inches of snow across the state. 

According to multiple sources as well as people who live in South Dakota, snow is common throughout the months of November through January. Often, snow plagues trick-or-treaters on Halloween night, if not earlier in October. Additionally, South Dakota has experienced snow as late in the year as June, so residents of the state are no strangers to winter weather! 

Earliest and Latest Snowfalls in South Dakota

first snow in south dakota

South Dakota has experienced snow as late in the year as June, so residents of the state are no strangers to winter weather!

©Jukka Jantunen/Shutterstock.com

Depending on your definition of snowfall, there are a few varying dates for the earliest and latest snowfalls in South Dakota. However, the first date where trace snow occurred in the air was September 9th, 2020. This is the earliest date on record so far, with September 29th being the previous record. However, the average first snow in South Dakota occurs sometime during October or November

When it comes to the latest first snowfall date, it’s rare for South Dakota to reach November and not see snow. However, November 10th, 2021 was the first date of any snow in the state of South Dakota for this particular winter season. It was a fairly large storm as well, likely giving the residents of this midwestern state a wake-up call for the rest of winter! 

Largest and Smallest Snowfalls in South Dakota

The Black Hills National Forest resides above 5000 feet in elevation, making it an ideal spot for skiing and experiencing the snow. This also means that they have high levels of snowfall in this area, with some figures suggesting nearly 100 inches in a single season. In fact, during the 1968 and 1969 winter season, South Dakota experienced a maximum of 94 inches of snow. 

There are also seasons in South Dakota’s history that don’t have very much snow, though this is rarer than you might think. However, from 1930 to 1931, South Dakota only experienced 5 inches of snow during its winter season. While this may sound ideal to many people, it no doubt had some effect on the overall population and the natural wildlife population of the state as well. 

Winter Temperatures in South Dakota

first snow in south dakota

The average first snow in South Dakota occurs sometime during October or November.

©Standret/Shutterstock.com

Winter weather in South Dakota is nothing to scoff at, given the fact that it remains below freezing for most of this season. With higher elevation gains to the west and the largest city in South Dakota located in the east, here are the average winter temperatures depending on where you are located in the state. 

Western South Dakota

The Black Hills National Forest experiences far more snow than the rest of the state, located to the west at the border of Wyoming. During the winter, it is cloudy and significantly likely to snow, with an average temperature range of 0 degrees to 32 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Central South Dakota

With the Missouri River cutting a path through the center of South Dakota, this region of the state experiences slightly warmer temperatures compared to the west. Depending on how harsh the winter is, Central South Dakota ranges anywhere from 10 degrees to 35 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Eastern South Dakota

With Sioux Falls located at the eastern corner of South Dakota, right beside Iowa and Minnesota, this location experiences frigid temperatures for most of the winter. The average highs and lows for eastern South Dakota range in temperature from 8 degrees to 33 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on the season. 

Winter Wildlife in South Dakota

first snow in south dakota

Winter weather in South Dakota is nothing to scoff at, given the fact that it remains below freezing for most of this season.

©Fiona M. Donnelly/Shutterstock.com

There’s plenty of wildlife to see and experience in South Dakota, even during the wintertime. Visiting any state or national park will likely give you a special glimpse into the life of the following animals: 

Up Next

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Jacob Boomsma/Shutterstock.com


Sources

  1. Snowfall Records for Sioux Falls, SD, Available here: https://www.weather.gov/fsd/FSDsnowrec
Share on:
About the Author

August Croft is a writer at A-Z Animals where their primary focus is on astrology, symbolism, and gardening. August has been writing a variety of content for over 4 years and holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Theater from Southern Oregon University, which they earned in 2014. They are currently working toward a professional certification in astrology and chart reading. A resident of Oregon, August enjoys playwriting, craft beer, and cooking seasonal recipes for their friends and high school sweetheart.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.