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Remembering the Day of the Derecho

By: Buz Kloot


I remember last year my friend from South Dakota sent me some images and video of a dust storm that caused havoc across southeastern South Dakota on May 12, 2022. The most unsettling video I saw was the view from the inside of the car on the I-90 between Mitchell and Sioux Falls. It was dark outside… and yet it was 4 pm. This was the first time I heard the word ‘derecho’ in this context, which refers to straight-line winds that exceed 58 mph. I was born on the (very dry) west coast of Africa and was familiar with the Arabic term ‘haboob’ a phenomenon found in the Sahara and the middle east, but a haboob, or derecho in Eastern South Dakota?


May 12. 2022 Derecho
Photo courtesy of Dan Mehlhaf

At Growing Resilience, I wanted to make sure we remember the derecho (or haboob), and May 12, 2023, is the one-year anniversary of that day because the dust-bowl-like conditions remind us of how brittle the system can be if it is disturbed and not covered.


We didn’t need to beat the bushes too long to find folks willing to share their expertise and experiences with us. We talked to Chris Coriel, the National Erosion Specialist based at the NRCS’s Central National Technology Support Center in Fort Worth, TX, Daniel Mehlhaf, USDA-NRCS District Conservationist in Yankton, SC, and Frank Kralicek, Jr., a farmer in Yankton and ended up with a lot of material.


Our senior staff writer, Kurt Lawton wrote an excellent article and we were excited that Dakota Farmer published this on May 10, 2023. In addition, we were able to have fascinating discussions with Dan Mehlhaf who experienced the storm, and with Chris Coreil who did the erosion modeling for the SD- NRCS and we have these discussions in our SoilHealthLabs podcast (wherever you get your podcasts) or you can locate them on our podcasts page at https://www.growingresiliencesd.com/podcasts


May 12, 2022 Derecho
Photo courtesy of Dan Mehlhaf

Thanks to Dan Mehlhaf’s quick thinking, we also had some amazing images of April 14, a month before the derecho, and have compiled 9 short videos of some of these experiences these are on the “Cost of Uncovered Soils” playlist on SD NRCS’s YouTube channel.


Please also feel free to follow Growing Resilience on your favorite social media outlet where you’ll see the above stories come out during the week that we remember the day of the derecho.


As is typical of our human condition, we are slow to learn; the May 1 dust storm near Farmersville, Illinois that killed 7 people in traffic is a stark reminder of that notion. Was it luck that folks weren’t killed in South Dakota? I don’t know, but what I do know is that if our fields were covered with residue or some sort of small-grain or cover crop canopy, we could appreciably mitigate the consequences of such a storm if we were to see those winds again.


Pass this on. Share. Let’s do all we can so that we, our children, or our descendants don’t have to see a storm like this again.



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Visit these “Growing Resilience Through Our Soils” information pages:

1. Podcast page for drought planning fact sheets, Q&As, news, podcasts and more.

2. Video page to watch videos of other ranchers’ journeys toward improved rangeland/pasture.

3.Follow Growing Resilience on social media:



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