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If I tell people from out of state that I live in South Dakota, the first thing most of them think of is our terrible weather. Of course, they are basing this opinion on sources like Laura Ingalls Wilder, which is all many people know about South Dakota.

But the Black Hills aren't nearly as brutal, weather-wise, as people seem to think. North Dakota, Minnesota, and all the other states in the easterly direction, can get much worse weather than we do in terms of total snowfall and total very-cold-days. Even Florida has occasional bouts of being worse off than we are. But weather here in the Black Hills is more fun because it is likely to change so very fast. Sun in the morning, snow by lunch, and a little rain after dinner isn't out of the question.

Today, in fact, we had an amazing little heat wave. Maximum temp was reported at 56°F. I realize that may not sound like a heatwave if you're reading this from California, Arizona, or Tahiti, but consider this: last week, we had a high temperature of 7°F one day. Nope, not a typo. It gets cold here, no denying it. South Dakota, Spearfish to be exact, holds the world's record temperature change: a 49° increase in two minutes as a chinook wind blew through.

While that isn't a typical occurrence, the occasional insanity of weather is one of the things that makes this region one of the most beautiful and fascinating areas in the country. The weather over the last hundred thousand years (or so) is largely responsible for the incredible geologic features like the Badlands and Needles. And it's great for winter recreation. Snow all last week and temperatures in the 50s this week makes for perfect skiing, snowmobiling, or sledding weather.

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