SIOUX FALLS AREA
CLIMATIC SUMMARY
2002

By Richard Ryrholm
Climatic Focal Point
National Weather Service, Sioux Falls

 

...2002 CONTINUES RECENT TREND OF MILD WINTERS AT SIOUX FALLS...

The total precipitation at Sioux Falls airport in the year 2002 was 24.07 inches...or 0.62 inch below the normal average of 24.69 inches. Most of the year was on the dry side with the exception of August...October...and in Sioux Falls itself...July. It was also a roller coaster in temperatures with a warm winter and summer...and coolish spring and fall. The temperature for the year averaged out to 46.9 degrees...or 1.8 degrees above the normal of 45.1 degrees. 

2002 started out warm...continuing the overall trend in the last 5 years of mild winters...except for the 2000-01 winter. For the November 2001 through February 2002 period...temperatures averaged 30.8 degrees for the warmest such period since Sioux Falls records began in 1893...and beating the old record of 30.6 degrees from November 1930 to February 1931. The meteorological winter of December 2001 through February 2002 averaged out to 26.5 degrees for the 4th warmest winter on record. As an aside...the 1999-2000 winter was the 9th warmest winter...and the 1997-98 winter was the 7th warmest winter. And 6 out of the top 10 warmest winters in our 110 year climatic record have occurred within the last 20 years.

December 2001 through February 2002 was also the 3rd driest meteorological winter on record with a total of only .55 inch precipitation. The coldest temperature of the winter season was only 5 below zero which occurred on both January 2nd and on March 3rd. March did turn around the mild winter...and was the 6th coldest March on record with an average of 23.4 degrees...or 9.2 degrees below normal. March was also colder than any month of the 2001-02 winter season...the only time in the records this has occurred. March also brought back the snow that was lacking since the big snowstorm of November 26-27th 2001...with March totaling 17.1 inches snowfall. April rebounded nicely in temperatures...and there was a record high of 89 degrees for April 15th.

There were several thunderstorm hail events worth mentioning for the spring...1 inch diameter hail at the airport April 13th...up to 1 inch hail west to north of Sioux Falls on April 16th...up to golf ball size hail north of Sioux Falls May 5th...and up to golf ball hail in Sioux Falls on June 17th. Precipitation was adequate for spring...but noticeably tailed off from the last half of May through early July...as the summer heat set in.

On June 29th...the temperature hit 101 degrees at Sioux Falls...a record for the date...and the first time Sioux Falls officially reached 100 degrees or more since August 8th 1995...an almost 7 year period. This is the longest period on record without hitting 100 degrees at Sioux Falls. The temperature also hit 101 degrees on July 20th. In an average year... Sioux Falls records 2 days of 100 degrees or more.

The Sioux Falls area was on the eastern edge of a major drought in South Dakota for May into July...but was saved locally by a couple of heavy thunderstorm events. The biggest one occurred the early morning of July 10th when over 3 inches of rain fell within the city in a couple of hours...while the airport had only 1.10 inch. At least 60 homes suffered significant damage from the flooding of basements due to sewers backing up in a four block area in the city. Another event occurred the evening of July 24th when over an inch of rain was reported in the city...along with wind gusts up to 70 mph causing tree damage and blowing down some power lines. These two events in July held off a drought for Sioux Falls until the widespread storms and heavy rains came in August.

A total of 8.26 inches rain was measured at the airport for August 2002...for the 3rd wettest August on record...and for the 11th wettest of any month on record. The first thunderstorm of the month was in the early evening of the 3rd when wind gusts to 60 mph caused some tree damage in Sioux Falls. In the late evening of August 11th the strongest wind of the year hit the airport as thunderstorm gusts up to 77 mph caused damage at the airport and in the city. The winds flipped two airplanes on the ground and destroyed one...and tore part of a wall from an airport maintenance building. Trees and power lines were also blown down. On August 16th...hail up to golfball size was reported in southwest Sioux Falls. The biggest rainfall event of the month and the year occurred the early morning of August 21st...when 3.75 inches rain was recorded at the airport. However...up to 6.5 inches rain was reported between Sioux Falls and Brandon...causing flooding of streets and basements.

The most significant weather the remainder of the year was the unusually wet...snowy...and cold October. October started off with a bang with the last severe weather event of the year on October 1st...when dime size hail was reported in Sioux Falls. It was the 3rd coldest October on record...averaging 7.1 degrees below normal. And it was the 4th snowiest October with a total of 6.3 inches...and the 8th wettest October. Then the dryness and mildness returned for November and December to end the year.

THE FOLLOWING TABLES GIVE A MONTH BY MONTH BREAKDOWN OF WEATHER IN 2002 AT THE SIOUX FALLS AIRPORT...

TEMPERATURES

AVERAGE           DEPARTURE  EXTREMES    MONTHLY
MONTH MAX MIN MONTHLY FROM NORM HIGH LOW RECORDS

JANUARY 35.7 13.8 24.8 PLUS 10.8 63 5B 10TH WARMEST
FEBRUARY 42.8 16.8 29.6 PLUS 8.8 68 4B
MARCH 32.7 14.1 23.4 MINUS 9.2 57 5B 6TH COLDEST
APRIL 59.9 34.6 47.3 PLUS 1.6 89 15
MAY 67.2 40.9 54.1 MINUS 3.7 92 27
JUNE 84.0 60.3 72.2 PLUS 4.7 101 41 10TH WARMEST
JULY 89.1 66.2 77.6 PLUS 4.6 101 49
AUGUST 80.7 60.3 70.5 MINUS 0.3 97 44
SEPTEMBER 75.0 51.5 63.3 PLUS 2.4 93 32
OCTOBER 50.3 31.5 40.9 MINUS 7.1 77 15 3RD COLDEST
NOVEMBER 44.1 21.8 32.9 PLUS 1.6 65 8
DECEMBER 37.5 15.7 26.6 PLUS 8.3 57 3B

2002 58.2 35.6 46.9 PLUS 1.8 101 5B

NORMAL YEAR 57.2 33.0 45.1

PRECIPITATION (INCHES) AND WINDS

DEPARTURE            DEPARTURE   MAX WIND GUSTS...
MONTH FROM NORM SNOWFALL FROM NORM DIRECTION/MPH/DATE

JANUARY .17 MINUS .34 3.5 MINUS 3.5 NW 36 ON 14TH
FEBRUARY .27 MINUS .24 2.8 MINUS 5.3 NW 55 ON 11TH
MARCH 1.41 MINUS .40 17.1 PLUS 7.9 NW 45 ON 9TH
APRIL 2.29 MINUS .36 4.9 PLUS 2.0 W 47 ON 24TH
MAY 1.82 MINUS 1.57 0 SE 45 ON 11TH
JUNE 2.57 MINUS .92 0 NW 43 ON 24TH
JULY 1.80 MINUS 1.13 0 W 56 ON 24TH
AUGUST 8.26 PLUS 5.25 0 NW 77 ON 11TH
SEPTEMBER 1.39 MINUS 1.19 0 SE 44 ON 18TH
OCTOBER 3.85 PLUS 1.92 6.3 PLUS 5.5 NW 44 ON 4TH
NOVEMBER .09 MINUS 1.27 1.0 MINUS 5.2 NW 55 ON 29TH
DECEMBER .15 MINUS .37 0.8 MINUS 6.3 NW 44 ON 20TH

2002 24.07 MINUS .62 36.4 MINUS 4.9 NW 77 AUG 11TH

RICHARD S. RYRHOLM/ CLIMATIC FOCAL POINT

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