National Weather Service Station Digest

 Rapid City, SD

Office Location
The Weather Forecast Office (WFO) in Rapid City is located near downtown Rapid City above the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in the Star Village neighborhood.  Our current office opened in November, 1995.

National Weather Service, NOAA
300 East Signal Drive
Rapid City, SD  57701

Office Services
The first official weather observations in Rapid City were established in 1888 (history of our office).  The office operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.  Our services include Synoptic Observations; Aviation; Upper Air Soundings; Doppler Radar; NOAA Weather Radio; Public Forecasts, Watches, and Warnings; Fire Weather Forecasts, Watches, and Warnings; Hydrologic Forecasts, Watches, and Warnings; and Climate Observations.  We provide these services to three counties in northeastern Wyoming and 16 counties in western South Dakota.

NWS Rapid City, SD County Warning Area

A variety of friendly people make up the office staff.  The staff operates under the supervison of the Meteorologist-in-Charge.  The Science and Operations Officer is responsible for training and implementing new technology into operational programs.  The Warning and Coordination Meteorologist serves as the liaison between the office and the users of WFO products.   Meteorologists create the forecasts and issue warnings.  Hydrometeorological technicians support and manage the climatological observation program as well as assure the quality of data leaving the office.  The Service Hydrologist is responsible for providing hydrologic services and data to the public.
The electronic technicians and information technology officer support a wide scope of technology and unique weather monitoring systems.  The administrative assistant helps manage the multi-million dollar annual budget and human resource services.

Community Description
Rapid City is the second largest city in South Dakota.  It serves as the industrial, retail, and cultural center of a region that extends into five states: northwestern Nebraska, northeastern Wyoming, southeastern Montana, southwestern North Dakota, and South Dakota west of the Missouri River. 

The population of Rapid City was estimated at 67,447 for 2009.  The Rapid City Metropolitan Statistical Area population was estimated at 120,279.

Ellsworth Air Force base is located near Rapid City and home to the 28th Bomb Wing.

Rapid City features a large greenway spanning more than 500 acres along the banks of Rapid Creek.  It is home to flower gardens, swimming pools, golf courses, parks, baseball fields, soccer fields, a full running track, and a seven-mile bike path.  Youth sports including baseball, soccer and hockey are a big part of the Rapid City community. 

Rapid City is host to the Rapid City Rush, a professional hockey team from the Central Hockey League.  The Rushmore Plaza Civic Center frequently features top name concerts, theater, comedic acts, rodeos, conventions, trade shows, and sports tournaments.

Rapid City serves as the gateway to the Black Hills.  The Black Hills west of Rapid City extends about 50 miles north and 75 miles south.  Elevations range from around 4,000 feet to 7,244 feet (Harney Peak).  A short drive from Rapid City reveals superb sightseeing, snow skiing, water skiing, camping, fishing, hunting, snowmobiling, and gold panning.  The historic and legendary town of Deadwood features gaming and other attractions.  The Black Hills and surrouding plains are widely known as a beautiful tourist destination.  Well-known destinations include:

Badlands National Park
Crazy Horse Memorial
Custer State Park
Devils Tower National Monument
Jewel Cave National Monument
Minuteman Missile National Historic Site
Mount Rushmore National Memorial
Wind Cave National Park

Additional information can be found at the Rapid City Covention & Vistors Bureau.

There are two four-year colleges in the area.  The South Dakota School of Mines and Technology includes the Department of Atmospheric Sciences, which offers careers in meteorology and environmental sciences, and research careers in weather and climate dynamics, atmospheric physics, air quality, and remote sensing.  Black Hills State University in Spearfish is within commuting distance and also offers courses through facilities located at the Higher Education Center in Rapid City.  Other institutions of higher education include Oglala Lakota College - Paha Sapa, National American University, and Western Dakota Technical Institute.

Rapid City offers excellent public schools with two high schools.  Many parochial schools are also available with services from pre-school to high school.

There is plenty of housing diversity in Rapid City.  The mean home price in Rapid City for 2008 was about $184,000, however, prices vary depending on location and size.  Typically, there are plenty of previously owned homes as well as new homes for sale.  Apartments are also available, although they can be in short supply at times.  The median rent was about $500 per month in 2008.

Hotel accomodations are plentiful.  Prices average from $50 to $100 a night during the off season.  During the summer months, advance reservations are recommended and prices can be significantly higher especially during  the Strugis Motorcycle Rally held in August.

Rapid City is a major medical care center for a five-state region, centered around Rapid City Regional Hospital.  Two Veterans Affairs hospitals are located nearby at Fort Meade and Hot Springs. 

Rapid City is a major transportation hub.  Rapid City Regional Airport provides direct flights to the cities of Denver, Minneapolis, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Phoenix/Mesa and Chicago.  The airport also has extensive General Aviation operations including wildfire fighting activities and medical flight support to Rapid City medical facilities.  City bus service is available, however travel to and from the WFO requires an automobile.

There are no personal income or personal property taxes in South Dakota.  Taxes are collected from a 6% sales tax as well as property taxes.

Rapid City and the Black Hills have relatively mild winters for its latitude.  The weather is quite changeable with very quick shifts from day to day common. 
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