Tag Archives | South Dakota

July 22, 2014 – South Dakota Beautiful Supercell

As if often the case on this particular tour, storm structure and quality was amazing this day. We started in Rapid City and spent the entire day with one supercell that formed early afternoon. This storm rolled over the Black Hills and turned due south into northwest Nebraska where it became tornado warned. It did not produce a tornado, but the structure was simply a photographers delight! It produced very large hail and an incredible amount of lightning. This was our last tour day of 2014, and a fantastic way to finish the season!


June 18, 2014 Central South Dakota Tornado Outbreak

June 18th was an incredible day in South Dakota! Superb moisture, instability and shear was moving northwest from Nebraska and pooled along a cold front.  By mid afternoon numerous storms formed along the boundary and merged into a squall line.  This was a bit disheartening to see, but we stayed with the tail end and eventually, as the better shear arrived, supercells formed and produced at least 8 tornadoes we witnessed including a couple of strong tornadoes near Wessington Springs, SD. These storms were amazingly electrified and had great structure as well. We had two different times when we had 2 tornadoes on the ground together. The final set of twins were the last two tornadoes of the event and very photogenic. What an amazing 3 day period we had, were we witnessed nearly 15 tornadoes!


May 25th Western South Dakota Supercells

Decent upslope flow into the Black Hills, along with good moisture and moderate shear, would set the stage for several supercells to develop and move east from the Rapid City area. Structure was quite nice with each of these storms as they spun across the countryside north of I-90. One storm tried hard to become tornadic, while the rest were quite prolific hail producers.

July 16th/17th SD Supercell/WY Fire

July 16th took us to central South Dakota for a marginal set up. Decent flow aloft, limited moisture and decent instability allowed a cluster of storms to form. The tail end storm became a gorgeous supercell and was very electrified. The next day on the way back to Denver, we passed the Sawmill Canyon, Wyoming fire. It was raging out of control and had consumed 13,000 acres.

July 18th, 2011 South Dakota Tornado

July 18th would be my last chase day for the month. We started the day in Bismark, ND. By early afternoon a boundary would set up over northern South Dakota. A tornadic supercell formed along this boundary southwest of Reva and anchored itself there for about an hour. We quickly went west and south on the Enchanted Highway and caught up to it in time to watch a substantial tornado. This supercell was fairly HP, but gave us a nice show with a moderately visible cone tornado. As it roped out, a new core on the south side of the supercell, pushed the tornado east as it became pretty visible. Most of the duration of the 12-14 minute tornado, it was poorly contrasted. Fortunately it occurred in a area that has little to no population. This storm was also highly electrified with numerous very close and intense CGs occurring.

July 14th, 2011 South Dakota Supercellfest

July 14th was a day that had a lot of promise. I didn’t think there was a tremendous tornado threat with the relatively weak low level shear from surface through 850 MB, but overall shear, moisture and instability were quite supportive of nicely structured supercells. It did not disappoint! We had several nice supercell storms to watch. The first storm of the day was an LP, then classic supercell, then almost died as it ingested tons of dry air, and finally came back to life and became the storm of the day. A couple other supercells were also very pretty and quite severe. Most storms produced hail up to baseball size and were very electrified as well.

May 8, 2011 Presho, SD Brief Tornado

We ended up in central South Dakota this day on what appeared to be a pretty marginal situation. Nonetheless a tornado watch was issued for the dryline in South Dakota, down through northern Nebraska. We positioned ourselves near Presho and watched a high based supercell spin like crazy and eventually produce this brief 2-3 minute weak tornado. It also produced an amazing cg display and dumped golf ball sized hail on us. Freakiest thing this day was what happened on the way to our hotel east near Chamberlain. As we were going down into the Missouri river valley, a freak gust of wind from a decaying storm hit us with such force, it picked up pebbles from the side of the road and blew out all the windows on the drivers side. Other than being shaken up a bit and a couple glass cuts, everyone was fine. Later we found out others had also been hit by this strange wind gust.  This put us out of commission the next day as we had to get glass installed. Caryn and her on call group witnessed a tornado near Harrison, NE on that day.

June 16, 2010 Dupree, South Dakota Tornado Outbreak

What an amazing day! We left North Platte, NE headed north to chase the warm front in South Dakota. I was certainly not expecting what occurred this day. After a quick lunch in Rapid City, we took off targeting the warm front near Faith. As we arrived a supercell formed, turned right and anchored on the warm front. This became the tornado machine of the year. We counted 16 tornadoes, with as many as 4 and possibly 5 on the ground at the same time. Three large wedge tornadoes occurred, along with about every other look and shape tornado imaginable. The town of Dupree came within a mile of being wiped off the face of the earth. Thank goodness the worst stayed just west and north of town. Here are a few images.

May 22, 2010 Bowdle, South Dakota Tornado Outbreak!

May 22nd was a day that had high risk/high reward written all over it. There really wasn’t much anywhere else to chase. We played the triple point in north central South Dakota and were rewarded with one of the prettiest and most violent tornado producing storms of the year. Several storms formed along the triple point and congealed into one beastly tornadic supercell that produced at least half dozen or more tornadoes. The large wedge in the photos below was an EF4 and we were able to get within a quarter mile of it before it started spewing debris around us. The structure of the monster was breathtaking as it dropped tornado after tornado between Bowdle and points northeast from there. Enjoy the photos and video, but keep in mind people’s lives were changed by the monster.

August 7, 2009 Sturgis, South Dakota Hailstorm

August 7th looked like a decent setup for western South Dakota. Good shear and moisture, moderate instability and strong lift would help fire off several supercells, including the Sturgis storm. We followed that storm from the time it passed Sturgis until it died near Murdo well into the night. It left behind a path of massive hail damage. It also injured numerous bikers and caused millions of dollars in damage at the Sturgis Bike Week Rally.