Significant Weather Events of 2008

 

The early and mid part of the winter of 2007-2008 was not very active as far as snowfall with much more snowfall late in the winter and early spring. Although there was not a shortage of cold air across central and northeast South Dakota as well as west central Minnesota throughout  the winter and spring of 2007-2008. With an active La Nina for most of 2008, average temperatures across the region were from 2 to 5 degrees below normal for the year. Drought across all of central and northeast South Dakota as well as west central Minnesota has completely gone away due to 2 to 5 inches of above normal yearly precipitation across the area. The summer brought some significant wind events with the most devastating wind event occurring on July 31st across northeast South Dakota and west central Minnesota. The winter of 2008-2009 has made a dramatic entrance with several bouts of bitter cold air along with above normal snowfall. Following are some of the more significant weather events of 2008 across central and northeast South Dakota along with west central Minnesota.
 
On January 29th and 30th, Arctic air combined with strong northwest winds of 20 to 40 mph brought extreme wind chills to much of north central and northeast South Dakota.  The extreme wind chills began in the morning hours of January 29th across all of the area. The wind chills improved across north central South Dakota by the evening and improved across northeast South Dakota during the morning hours of January 30th. The extreme wind chills ranged from 35 to 50 degrees below zero across the area.  The extreme cold caused school delays and activity cancellations along with much discomfort to people and livestock. On Monday January 28th, the day before the extreme cold, a southerly flow brought very mild temperatures with some record highs set at several locations. Highs were in the 40s to the mid 50s across central and northeast South Dakota. When the Arctic front came through on January 28th, temperatures fell dramatically through the evening and early morning with below zero temperatures by Tuesday morning, January 29th.  In fact, most locations across the area had a 40 to 55 degree temperature change from January 28th to the 29th.
 
On February 19th and 20th, Arctic air along with blustery northwest winds brought extreme wind chills during the evening and early morning hours to northeast South Dakota and west central Minnesota. Wind chills ranged from 35 to 50 degrees below zero. The winds diminished in the early morning hours of the 20th allowing air temperatures to fall to record or near record lows across northeast South Dakota. Ten new record lows, ranging from 23 to 30 degrees below zero, were set for February 20th. Several water pipes were broken in Aberdeen and in Roslyn. In Roslyn, 225 people were without water for much of the day on the 20th as the water main broke during the night. Also, there were many vehicles that did not start along with late school starts or closings.
 
An upper level disturbance coupled with an area of low pressure moving across the Central Plains brought widespread heavy snow from the late afternoon through the early morning hours to north central and northeast South Dakota along with west central Minnesota on March 19th and 20th. Heavy snow of 6 to as much as 18 inches fell across this area resulting in school delays and cancellations along with treacherous travel conditions.
 
An area of low pressure moving across the Northern Plains brought another round of heavy snow from 6 to 15 inches in a band across much of central and northeast South Dakota on March 26th and 27th. Schools were delayed or cancelled and road travel was difficult, if not impossible.
 
On April 6th and 7th, an area of low pressure moving across South Dakota spread heavy snow of 6 to 15 inches across much of central, north central, northeast South Dakota as well as west central Minnesota. Also, strong winds of 25 to 40 mph caused some blowing and drifting snow. Many activities were cancelled and roads became treacherous. Many vehicles went into the ditch and several accidents also occurred.
 
On April 10th and 11th, an intense area of low pressure moving northeast across the Central Plains brought widespread heavy snow and strong winds to parts of central and northeast South Dakota. Snowfall amounts from 3 to 16 inches combined with north winds of 30 to 45 mph brought widespread blowing and drifting snow with blizzard conditions and heavy drifting affecting much of the area. A few thunderstorms brought rapid snowfall rates to some areas. Many vehicles went into the ditch with many other accidents occurring. Most roads became nearly impassable with no travel advised for parts of central and much of northeast South Dakota. There were many people stranded to wait out the storm. Also, many schools and businesses were closed on Friday the 11th.  
 
On April 25th and 26th, a strong low pressure area brought widespread heavy snow of 6 to 20 inches to most of northeast South Dakota and west central Minnesota for much of the 25th and into the early morning hours of the 26th. The precipitation began as light freezing rain in the early morning across parts of the area before changing to all snow by mid morning. As the low pressure area intensified, snowfall rates and the north winds also increased. The heavy snow combined with the strong winds created widespread visibility problems along with large snowdrifts.  There were a number of automobiles that went into the ditch along with many other automobiles damaged in accidents. Many stranded motorists had to abandon their vehicles in the hardest hit areas. Travel was not advised across the entire area. A school bus slid into a ditch east of Castlewood with no injuries occurring. Interstate-29 was closed from 3 pm the 25th until 3 pm on the 26th from Brookings north to the North Dakota border. In addition, South Dakota State Highway 12 was closed from Webster to the Minnesota line from the afternoon of the 25th until the late morning of the 26th. Most counties affected by the storm opened emergency shelters when Interstate 29 was closed to house stranded motorists. Also, many schools were closed across the area The very heavy snow set several records across the area. The 19 inches at Watertown broke its all time 24 hour snowfall record of 16 inches. Both Victor and Clear Lake had their second highest snowfall ever recorded in a 24 hour period. Watertown, along with several other locations in northeast South Dakota, received near record or record snowfall for the month of April.
 
On May 24th and 25th, a strong upper level low lifting across the region combined with high low level moisture and strong winds to result in several supercell thunderstorms across the region. Large hail up to the size of golf balls along with a few tornadoes occurred. A supercell thunderstorm produced seven different tornados as it moved from Ziebach County in Rapid City's warning area into Dewey county in Aberdeen's warning area. One tornado touched down briefly and blew down part of an old barn and destroyed two old sheds in western Dewey County.
 
On June 2nd and 3rd, several supercell thunderstorms rolled southeast from northwest South Dakota into central South Dakota bringing large hail, damaging winds, and flash flooding during the late afternoon and evening hours. The large hail and high winds killed a large number of birds, pheasants, grouse, and rabbits. Thousands of acres of grassland and cropland along with countless shelter belts received minor to major damage in Stanley and Hughes County. The large hail also knocked out many windows and damaged the siding of tens of buildings and homes in both Stanley and Hughes counties. Many roads and cropland were also affected by flash flooding throughout Hughes and Stanley counties. Pierre and Fort Pierre were the cities most affected by the flash flooding. A Federal Disaster Declaration was issued for Hughes and Stanley counties mainly for the flooding. Very heavy rain of over 3 inches caused flash flooding in many parts of Pierre into the early morning hours. Many roads were under 1 to 2 feet of water. Several homes in southeast Pierre received sewer backup. Also several homes on Grey Goose road received flood damage.
 
On the evening of the 26th of June 2008, a compact upper level low pressure system tracking through the Northern Plains interacted with a very moist and unstable air mass over western and central South Dakota resulting in a widespread severe weather outbreak. Three confirmed tornadoes occurred briefly in western Dewey County. Little or no damage was reported and all three tornadoes were rated EF-0. In addition to the tornadoes, multiple reports of large hail were received over Corson and Dewey Counties, including some to the size of baseballs near the communities of McLaughlin and Isabel. The large hail broke out many home and vehicle windows and damaged many roofs in Dewey, Corson, and Sully Counties. Significant wind damage occurred over sections of Sully County. There were multiple reports of wind gusts in excess of 70 mph, with the most concentrated swath of damaging winds extending from near Sutton Bay, eastward to the city of Onida, then southeast to the community of Harrold.
The storm survey began near Sutton Bay on Lake Oahe, where a wind gust of 92 mph was recorded. The most significant property damage was found further east near the community of Agar where multiple grain bins were either damaged or destroyed. Nine miles west of Agar, a barn was destroyed and a large pine tree was snapped in half. Winds in this area were estimated to range from 80 to 100 mph. Near the intersection of Highways 1804 and 175th Street, several Western Area Power Administration (WAPA) electrical transmission towers were completely collapsed. This is consistent with wind speeds ranging from 130-140 mph. In the city of Onida a bank roof was damaged and the city was without power until the next day. Four miles north of Onida, a feed wagon was tossed nearly 40 feet. In Harrold, several railroad cars were tipped over. Also of great significance during the event was the peak wind speed of 124 mph recorded at the Onida airport. This wind speed is the strongest wind gust ever measured in the Aberdeen County Warning Area (CWA) and the 4th strongest wind speed ever reported in South Dakota.
 
In the early morning hours of July 31st, a line of storms originating in North Dakota began to expand and surge southeast into northeast South Dakota. As the storms moved southeast, they began to tap into warmer, more humid air and rapidly evolve into a line of severe thunderstorms. Widespread damage occurred in a wide swath extending from Long Lake in McPherson County all the way into eastern Grant County and southern Big Stone County in Minnesota. The most extensive damage was generally found along and near US Highway 12 from Aberdeen to Milbank. Several observing stations in the path of this system measured wind speeds ranging from 70 mph to over 115 mph. Estimated wind speeds from damage surveys indicated even stronger winds with peak speeds of 120 mph.
 
Over fifty communities in northeast South Dakota and the surrounding rural areas received minor to major tree and structural damage as straight line winds from 70 to 120 mph raced across the area. Webster and Waubay received the most extensive damage from the storms. Thousands of trees were snapped or uprooted, hundreds of grain bins were damaged or destroyed, hundreds of homes, businesses, and outbuildings were damaged or destroyed along with many power poles and miles of power lines downed. Many mobile homes, campers, and boats were damaged or destroyed along with many road and business signs. Countless homes, vehicles, and campers were also damaged by fallen trees. Thousands of acres of crops were also damaged or completely destroyed by the winds and hail. The greatest crop damage occurred in the Roslyn, Grenville, Eden, and Pickeral Lake areas in Marshall and Day counties. Many acres of corn were blown down and not able to come back. The large hail combined with the strong winds also broke out countless windows in homes and vehicles along with damaging the siding on homes. Thousands of people were left without power for up to several days. Large hay bales were moved up to 700 yards by the high winds. A semi was overturned on Highway 12 near Webster, injuring the driver. Near Milbank on Highway 12, two other semis were blown off the road resulting in injuries to both drivers. A State Forestry Specialist said it was one of the worst tree damage events he has ever seen in the Webster area. A fifty-eight year old man died two miles north of Waubay during the cleanup after the storms when he was pinned between a backhoe and a tree.
 
In late October, a fast moving cold front ushered in very strong and damaging northwest winds across central and northeast South Dakota along with west central Minnesota. Northwest winds of 30 to 50 mph with gusts over 60 mph began in the early morning and continued into the early evening. The high winds downed many trees and branches along with several power lines and poles. The high winds also damaged some roofs and signs and broke off many acres of unharvested corn. In Aberdeen, two large sports complex light poles were downed by the high winds. The highest measured wind gust was 73 mph just west of Onida in central South Dakota.
 
On November 6th and 7th, a blizzard affected central and northeast South Dakota and west central Minnesota. Snowfall amounts of 3 to 8 inches combined with winds of 30 to 50 mph or higher caused widespread blizzard conditions along with heavy drifting snow. At the beginning of the event, freezing rain resulted in the heavy ice accumulations across the counties west of Missouri River. When the strong winds came up, numerous power poles were downed across Jones, Stanley, Corson, and Dewey resulting in power outages for up to several days. Interstate 90 was closed from Mitchell to the Wyoming border Thursday through much of Friday. Many vehicles were stranded along the Interstate. Many schools and businesses were closed. The Governor issued a State of Emergency for South Dakota. Western South Dakota received the blunt of this storm with almost 46 inches of snow near Deadwood, winds gusts over 80 mph, and 10 to 20 foot drifts across much of the area.
 
Another blizzard along with extreme wind chills affected all of central and northeast South Dakota as well as west central Minnesota from December 13th into the 15th. Snowfall amounts of 2 to as much as 12 inches fell across the central, north central, and northeast South Dakota. This snow combined with brutal arctic winds of 30 to 50 mph gusting over 60 mph brought widespread blizzard conditions and extreme wind chills to 45 below zero to the area. Interstate 90 and 29 were both closed for awhile during the blizzard along with many other roads. Numerous schools were delayed or canceled on Monday the 15th.


Return to News Archive

USA.gov is the U.S. government's official web portal to all federal, state and local government web resources and services.