2009 Black Hills Weather Highlights

A summary of weather events in the Black Hills Region in 2009

 Complete details of these events and additional statistics are available in the 2009 Annual Summary

Spring Snowfall Sets Records:  Three blizzards in two weeks (March 23-24, March 30-31, and April 3-5) buried much of western South Dakota under several feet of snow. Hurricane-strength wind gusts near 80 mph caused blowing and drifting snow.  Tens of thousands of newborn calves and lambs perished.

The Rapid City Regional Airport received 37.9 inches of snow from March 23 through April 5, the most ever to fall in a 14 day period.  Daily snowfall totals for each storm ranked among the highest 24 hour totals:  12.4 inches on April 4 (seventh greatest); 12.0 inches on March 30 (ninth); and 8.0 inches on March 23 (22nd).

Other snowfall totals from the three storms:
   Lead:  99.0 inches
   Camp Crook: 53.0 inches
   Fort Meade/Sturgis: 36 inches
   Downtown Rapid City: 35.7 inches
   Belle Fourche: 34.5 inches
   Newell: 27.0 inches
   Pactola: 26.2 inches
   Lemmon: 26.0 inches
   Long Valley: 26.0 inches
   Mission 14S: 24.0 inches

As snow continued to pile up during the month of April, ten locations set all-time seasonal snowfall records.  

Station
2008-2009 Snowfall (inches)
Previous Record (inches)
Season
Rapid City NWS
90.2
80.3
1969-70
Bison
87.9
63.8
1996-97
Camp Crook
133.0
75.8
1926-27
Fort Meade
97.4
92.6
1983-84
Harding
105.0
102.0
1997-96
Lemmon
90.5
88.6
1996-97
Porcupine 11N
65.0
51.8
1994-95
Red Owl
79.9
75.0
1985-86
Spearfish
124
118
1972-73
Wind Cave
64.7
54.8
2000-01

Twenty-four other locations ended the 2008-2009 winter season with near-record snowfall.

Station
2008-2009 Snowfall (inches)
Ranking
Record Snowfall (inches)
Season
Belle Fourche
82.1
2
84.5
1970-71
Dupree
54.0
10
79.5   
1949-50
Edgemont
34.1
9   
57.5   
1993-94
Elm Springs
41.2   
10   
60.5   
1985-86
Faith
80.2
4   
119.9
1996-97
Glad Valley
74.5
tied for 4th with 1970-71
98.5    
1996-97
Hermosa
46.0   
tied for 5th with 2000-01
60.0   
1916-17
Hill City  
87.0
3
89.0
1955-56
Hot Springs
52.1
9
72.3
1975-76
Interior/ Badlands National Park
42.5
7
57.9
1956-57
Lead
280.5
4
364.7
1993-94
Long Valley
57.0
6
68.5
1976-77
Ludlow
 49.0   
6   
84.0   
1969-70 
Martin
61.5 
3   
 75.0   
1935-36
Mission  
57.8   
7   
78.7
1976-77
Mission 14 S
58.0
7
85.0
1952-53
Newell, SD
67.5
2
68.8
1996-97
Oral
50.0
3
52.2
1985-86
Pactola Dam  
86.2
2
86.9
1996-97
Rapid City Regional Airport
80.3
2
80.9
1985-86  
Redig 11 NE  
97.0
2
109.0
1985-86
Wasta
46.9
10
 72.5
1969-70
Wood
56.1
8
 73.0
1976-77
Hulett, WY
98.0
6
137.6
1969-70

Spring Flooding:  As the snow melted in mid April; extensive flooding occurred along the Cheyenne, Belle Fourche, Grand, Moreau, and Little Missouri Rivers and their tributaries.  The high water washed out many county and local roads and bridges in northwestern South Dakota and flooded parts of Belle Fourche, Nisland, Vale, Bison, Camp Crook, and Hoover.  Six counties and two reservations in western South Dakota were declared Federal disaster areas.

Tornadoes:  Eleven tornadoes occurred in the region; eight in South Dakota and three in Wyoming.  Three tornadoes touched down in Todd County, SD; Tripp and Ziebach Counties, SD and Campbell County, WY each had two.

The first tornadoes touched down near Dupree on May 12; the latest tornado was sighted between Gillette and Wright on July 27.  Four tornadoes occurred during the evening of July 8-9 in the Mission and Winner areas.

The strongest tornado tracked across northeastern Wyoming on July 13 and destroyed a house, mobile home, large barn, and several sheds on a ranch northeast of Sundance. Two people in the residences received minor injuries.  The half-mile wide funnel mowed down over 4000 acres of pine trees in the Black Hills National Forest along its 9.5 mile long track.  It was rated an EF2 with winds estimated between 120 and 130 mph.

One of the two tornadoes on May 12 dented grain bins and tore metal siding off sheds, blew over a truck and trailer, and toppled a large communications tower north of Dupree.  It was rated an EF1 with winds estimated at 100 to 110 mph.

Two tornadoes caused minor property damage and two tornadoes downed trees.

Rally Hail:  A severe thunderstorm dropped hail larger than baseballs in the Sturgis area during the annual Rally on Friday, August 7.  The hail damaged many vehicles and motorcycles and injured a couple of people at campgrounds and concert sites east of town.  The storm then traveled 125 miles to the southeast, destroying crops and damaging property along its path.

Other Severe Thunderstorms:
A series of long-lasting severe thunderstorms crossed the region on July 13.  One storm produced large hail and strong wind gusts for five and a half hours from east of Rapid City to the Valentine, Nebraska area.  Softball-sized hail fell around Rosebud, SD and large cottonwood trees were blown down near Norris, SD.  Another storm pounded the Hulett, WY area with softball-sized hail (4 1/4” diameter) that damaged roofs and siding and broke windows in almost every building.  An 86 mph wind gust was measured near Porcupine in eastern Shannon County.

On July 8, a thunderstorm raced across far southern South Dakota with wind gusts near 80 mph that damaged buildings and blew down trees northeast of Martin and baseball sized hail around Mission.  The same evening on the opposite end of the state, baseball sized hail and 76 mph wind gusts caused extensive damage in Lemmon.

Strong wind and large hail damaged buildings around Osage, WY on July 9.

Seventy-five mph wind gusts blew down power poles, trees, small barns, and sheds south of Winner on June 24.  Large hail with the storm also caused crop damage.

Windy January:  The average wind speed for the month of January at the Rapid City Regional Airport was 12.3 mph.  Nineteen days had sustained wind speeds 30 mph or higher; fifteen days measured wind gusts 45 mph or higher.  A wind gust of 69 mph occurred Jan 12.

Cool Summer:  The Rapid City Regional Airport had its third coolest summer in 2009, with an average temperature of 65.3, slightly behind 1992 with 64.2 degrees and 1993 with 64.7 degrees.  2009 was also the second consecutive summer the maximum temperature failed to reach 100 degrees.  As of Dec 20, 2009, Rapid City had 860 consecutive days with temperatures less than 100 degrees, topping a string of 738 days in 1982-83.

Fall Temperatures do a Flip-Flop The year ended with highly varying temperatures.  Fourteen locations recorded their coldest October.  As suddenly as temperatures cooled, they rose in November with many locations posting near-record warmth for the month.  Temperatures nose-dived with the start of December and the month was one of the coldest Decembers on record.

Whiteout Christmas:  A large storm brought heavy snow, strong winds, and blizzard conditions over much of the central United States over the Christmas holiday. Five to more than 50 inches of snow and wind gusts over 75 mph across western South Dakota December 25-26 halted all forms of travel.



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