Past Historic Arctic Outbreaks

With an arctic outbreak coming early this week, we will take a look at past arctic outbreaks across Northeastern Wyoming and Western South Dakota. While the upcoming arctic outbreak will be cold, historically, it has been worse.

Below you will find three different statistics for five different locations. From top to bottom, the first shows the highest amount of consecutive days in which the maximum temperature stayed below 0º F. The second shows the most amount of consecutive days in which the minimum temperature dipped below -20º F. The last shows the all-time record low for each location.

Here are some of the worst arctic outbreaks observered in Northeastern Wyoming and Western South Dakota:

  •  February 1899:  Downtown Rapid City set its record low temperature of -34° while Oelrichs dropped to -41°.
  •  February 1905
  • January - February 1916: On January 12; record low temperatures were set at Camp Crook with  -57°, Redig with -46°, and Cottonwood witht -42°.  Downtown Rapid City had ten days with high temperatures below zero and Camp Crook had seven consecutive days.
  • January - February 1918:  Fort Meade set its record low of -35° on January 28.
  • January 1930
  • February 1933
  • February 1936:  South Dakota’s all-time record low temperature of -58° was set at McIntosh on February 17; other record lows were set during this period include -45° at Lemmon, -40° at Lead and Gillette, -38° at Winner, and -36° at Wood.  Downtown Rapid City had six consecutive days with the high temperature below zero and Lemmon had nine days.
  • February 1939: Bison set its record low temperature of -42° on February 10.
  • January 1943; on January 22: Spearfish set a world record temperature change when the temperature climbed  from -4 to 45° (49 degrees) in only two minutes.  A short time later, the temperature plummeted from 54 to -4° (58 degrees) in 27 minutes.
  • January - February 1979
  • December 1983: Record low temperatures were set at Oral with -43°, Ludlow at -38°, Pactola at -35°, and Mission at -32°.  The Rapid City Airport had seven consecutive days with the high temperature below zero while Camp Crook had nine days, Cottonwood and Winner had eight days, Fort Meade had six days, and Gillette and Lead each had five days.
  • January – February 1989: Consecutive pre-Christmas cold spells in December 1989 and 1990:  All-time record lows set in 1989 include -44° at Belle Fourche, -40° at Edgemont , and -38° at Newell.  In 1990, Faith set its record low of -34°, Deerfield at -45°, Porcupine at -45°, Hill City at -39°, and 14S Mission at -31°. 
  • January – February 1996: The Rapid City Airport set its record low of -31° on February 2.

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