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Lightning strike kills 21 cattle in McCook County

SALEM, S.D. -- A lightning strike in McCook County killed 21 cattle Wednesday, according to the McCook County Emergency Manager. Emergency Manager Brad Stiefvater said the cattle likely died at approximately 9 p.m. Wednesday when lightning struck...

21 cattle lay dead around a metal feeder that was struck by lightning Wednesday night in McCook County. (Photo courtesy of the Moody County Sheriff's Office)
21 cattle lay dead around a metal feeder that was struck by lightning Wednesday night in McCook County. (Photo courtesy of the Moody County Sheriff's Office)

SALEM, S.D. -- A lightning strike in McCook County killed 21 cattle Wednesday, according to the McCook County Emergency Manager.

Emergency Manager Brad Stiefvater said the cattle likely died at approximately 9 p.m. Wednesday when lightning struck a metal feeder the cattle were huddled around. As of Friday morning, Stiefvater declined to share the name of the farmer to protect their privacy, but said it took place in the Salem area.

"There was quite a bit of lightning in the area when that went through, and it just happened to hit that unlucky spot," Stiefvater said Friday.

Stiefvater said the county saw strong storm cells to the north and south Wednesday night, but it was the sharp cloud-to-ground lightning that was most damaging. According to a Facebook post on the Moody County Sheriff's Office page, which shared the incident, the estimate monetary loss for the farmer is approximately $45,000.

While Stiefvater said lightning strikes are fairly common in the pastures in McCook County, he said he's never heard of anything similar to Wednesday night's occurrence.

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"As you talk to longtime farmers around here, it's very common through the summer of one or two hitting a pasture by a tree, but never that many," Stiefvater said. "And when they're all around a metal feed bunk, it delivers it to every one of them through the metal."

Stiefvater offered one piece of advice to consider when a storm approaches.

"Respect lightning more so than anything else," Stiefvater said. "That's the tip."

Earlier this week, thunderstorms and high winds also damaged electrical lines and property in Winner, hail damaged windows and vehicles in White Lake and heavy rains caused flooding in Platte.

Related Topics: AGRICULTURE
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