2013 Black Hills Region Weather Events

Blizzard shuts down western South Dakota
A severe blizzard hit the Black Hills region shortly after the start of autumn.  Rain soaked the region Thursday, October 3 before changing to snow over northeastern Wyoming and the Black Hills overnight and on the plains of western South Dakota Friday, October 4. Heavy snow and strong winds continued through midday Saturday, October 5.  
 
Snowfall from October 3-5, 2013 blizzard
As much as 55 inches of snow fell over the northern Black Hills.  The plains received six to 24 inches, with accumulations abruptly decreasing east of a line from McIntosh to Dupree, Midland, and Mission. Seventy mile per hour wind gusts whipped the snow into deep drifts. Downtown Rapid City’s 19.0 inch snowfall on October 4 almost doubled the previous October daily record of 9.9 inches set October 19, 1919. The total snowfall of 23.1 inches is the second highest snowfall from one storm, exceeding 22.4 inches measured just six months earlier on April 8-10, behind 32.2 inches that fell April 12-16, 1927. Lead, where heavy fall snow is more common, received 42 inches of snow on October 4, which broke the previous October daily record of 38.9 inches recorded on October 26, 1996.
 
Travel was almost impossible for two days as most roads were closed.  The heavy, wet snow damaged trees and downed power lines, and many customers were without electricity for a week or longer. The heaviest toll was the loss of livestock. Thousands of cattle, sheep, and horses died of hypothermia after being soaked by the rain and chilled by the colder temperatures and strong winds, suffocated in deep snow drifts, or drowned.
 
Light winter snow…
Snowfall during the first three months of 2013 was generally below normal. A storm on January 11 produced six to 12 inches of snow over the Black Hills and southwestern South Dakota; another on February 9-10 left three to eight inches of snow across south central South Dakota. Localized storms on March 16 and March 22 left heavy snow around Rapid City and central Black Hills, but most stations had well below normal snowfall, raising concerns about the ongoing drought and wildfire potential.
 
…until April
Three snowstorms during the month produced record snowfall and precipitation with snowfall averaging 400 percent of normal across the region.  The first storm on April 8-10 set snowfall records over a large portion of the region. More snow fell on April 16-17 and April 21-22.  Both the Rapid City Regional Airport and the downtown Rapid City National Weather Service office set all-time greatest monthly snowfall records with 43.4 and 39.5 inches respectively.
 
Active thunderstorm season
Thunderstorm season started later than usual in mid-May and continued through the entire month of September. The largest hail reported was the softball size (4.25” diameter) from storms in eastern Custer County on the morning of June 21; north of Johnson Siding, South Dakota on August 30; and near Rozet in eastern Campbell County, Wyoming on September 8.  The strongest measured thunderstorm wind gust was 87 mph west of Edgemont, South Dakota on July 6. Wind gusts estimated at 90 mph blew down power lines east of Pine Ridge, South Dakota on August 30.
 
Large hail pounded sections of Rapid City five times during the summer and caused millions of dollars in damage to vehicles and roofs. A thunderstorm dropped ping pong ball size hail from neighborhoods southwest of Rapid City to downtown May 18. The southern sections of town received quarter size hail June 17. Central Rapid City to Rapid Valley saw hail to the size of half dollars (1.25 inch diameter) July 19. Much of the city was bombarded by 2.5 inch diameter hail for 20 minutes July 20, which disrupted outdoor activities. Hail as large as baseballs fell for 45 minutes and heavy rain caused street flooding along many major streets August 30.  
 
In addition to widespread rain that led to flooding in May, individual thunderstorms produced localized flash flooding. Two golf courses in west Rapid City were flooded May 29; high water on Rapid Creek covered the bike path and reached structures in Rapid Valley. Heavy rain over a large portion of western Tripp County covered highways and damaged gravel roads during the night of July 14-15.  A small flash flood destroyed ranch buildings southwest of Newcastle July 28. Flooding occurred over the Rosebud Indian Reservation after heavy rain July 30. Much of Wright, Wyoming was flooded August 1.     
 
Four small tornadoes were confirmed. A tornado destroyed a house and mobile home on the south edge of Allen, South Dakota on May 28. A tornado blew down trees along the Mickelson Trail and Needles Highway south of Hill City on August 11. Two brief tornadoes were observed near Philip on July 30 and east of Hermosa on August 30 but neither caused damage.
 


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