Record Rainfall in Sioux Falls, South Dakota

By: Christopher C. Burt , 6:34 PM GMT on June 17, 2014

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Record Rainfall in Sioux Falls, South Dakota

As Jeff Masters blogged today (June 17th) deadly tornadoes struck Nebraska on Monday June 16th. Tornadoes also were reported in Iowa and Wisconsin. Accompanying the twisters were some phenomenal rainfalls in nearby South Dakota. One site, Canton, reported 8.43” of rainfall in the 24 hours ending at 6 a.m. local time June 17th.



Radar estimated rainfall over southeastern South Dakota (and surrounding region) for the 24-hour period of 9 a.m. June 16 to 9 a.m. June 17. Image from NWS-Sioux Falls.

The 8.43” 24-hour precipitation figure for Canton is just shy of the official South Dakota state record of 8.74” measured at Groton on May 6, 2007. Canton is an official NWS COOP site and much heavier unofficial 24-hour rainfalls have occurred in South Dakota at other locations in the past. Most notably the estimated 15” in about six hours that fell at a site called Nemo along the Box Elder Creek, and 14.5” at Sheridan Lake in the Black Hills on June 9, 1972. This event resulted in the disastrous Black Hills and Rapid City flood that killed 236, the 2nd deadliest flash flood in U.S. history (the Famous Johnstown, Pennsylvania flood of May 31, 1889 being the worst with 2,200 fatalities).

Canton is about 15 miles southeast of Sioux Falls where 3.00” was officially measured at Foss Airfield on June 16th. Of this amount, 0.85” fell in just a five-minute period between 3:05-3:10 p.m. CDT (that’s a rate of 10.2” per hour!). The storm was accompanied by an 87 mph wind gust and hail.



The heavy rainfall over the past three days (June 14-16) has resulted in massive flooding across eastern South Dakota and Iowa. Interstate 29 was forced to close south of Sioux Falls for a good portion of the day on Monday. The photo above is ironically dated June 16, 2011 but shows the same section of I-29 under water during the more widespread regional floods that affected the same area exactly five years ago to the day. Photo from Salvation Army of Siouxland.

The 3.00” in Sioux Falls on June 16th was preceded by 2.74” on June 15th and 1.97” on June 14th, the latter two being daily records. On June 14-15 the city picked up 4.56” in the 24-hour period of 5 a.m., June 14 to 5 a.m., June 15, just shy of the all-time (any month) 24-hour precipitation record of 4.59” set on August 1, 1975. However, the 7.71” from June 14-16 brings the June monthly precipitation total in Sioux Falls to 13.04”. This has crushed the previous all-time monthly record for the city of 9.42” set back in May 1898. Precipitation records for Sioux Falls began in June 1890, although the official POR starts in 1893 (a few days of records are missing from May and June 1891 and also from October 1893).



Climate table for Sioux Falls, South Dakota as of June 16th (an additional .07" fell on June 17-18). Note that five days of the month so far have seen 1.00”+ rainfall accumulations. The average June total precipitation for the site is 3.92” (POR 1981-2010). Table from NWS-Sioux Falls.

What is extraordinary about this month’s record rainfall in Sioux Falls is that there are still 12 days left to the month and yet the previous record has already been surpassed by a margin of 38%, this for a site with 121 years of record!

Christopher C. Burt
Weather Historian

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8. WunderAlertBot (Admin)
6:29 PM GMT on June 20, 2014
weatherhistorian has created a new entry.
7. AlwaysThinkin
5:40 PM GMT on June 20, 2014
Quoting 4. ColoradoBob1:

The 8.43%u201D 24-hour precipitation figure for Canton is just shy of the official South Dakota state record of 8.74%u201D measured at Groton on May 6, 2007. Canton is an official NWS COOP site and much heavier unofficial 24-hour rainfalls have occurred in South Dakota at other locations in the past. Most notably the estimated 15%u201D in about six hours that fell at a site called Nemo along the Box Elder Creek, and 14.5%u201D at Sheridan Lake in the Black Hills on June 9, 1972. This event resulted in the disastrous Black Hills and Rapid City flood that killed 236, the 2nd deadliest flash flood in U.S. history (the Famous Johnstown, Pennsylvania flood of May 31, 1889 being the worst with 2,200 fatalities).

I was at Estes Park when the 1976 "Big Thompson Flood" came, When one of these things gets cranking there's so much water in the air, you feel like there's not enough oxygen floating around.

(the Famous Johnstown, Pennsylvania flood of May 31, 1889 being the worst with 2,200 fatalities).

There was a poorly maintained dam owned by the South Fork Hunting and Fishing Club that failed . ( These were some of the richest people of the gilded age )

David McCullough: made his bones writing about the this flood it's probably still in print

The Johnstown Flood: David McCullough

By the way , no one ever paid a dime because these rich people were trying to save a few dollars.


One of the problems in a lot of these areas in the upper great plains, at least from what I know about western Iowa, is that there is a lot old unmaintained dams and levees that are a century plus old that even the federal government doesn't know about. Draining of wetlands for agriculture and channelizing streams and rivers was just one of 'the white mans' damn stupid ideas for this region to make Jethro Tull style row agriculture, not taking into account topography or climateological details, the dominant form of agriculture in these regions. I'm thinking we were forgiven in the first few centuries of doing (and the growth of non permeable suburban sprawl development e.g. parking lots, big houses, replacing native vegetation with sod, etc.) this, but climatic change due to a wetter and hotter climate means we better get hip to doing things better or we're going to continue to get clocked by nature.
Member Since: August 9, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 394
6. ColoradoBob1
6:32 PM GMT on June 19, 2014
That brings the airport's total to 10.33 inches for the month, making this the second-wettest June so far on record -- behind the 11.67 inches that fell in June 1874.

It's rare for the Twin Cities to see this much rain in a calendar day. In records dating to 1871, it's happened only 11 other times.

The rain has fallen during what has already been a soggy start to the year. From Jan. 1 to Wednesday, 21.1 inches of precipitation was measured at the airport -- the highest on record over that period.


Link
Member Since: August 13, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 2533
5. barbamz
12:08 AM GMT on June 19, 2014
Member Since: October 25, 2008 Posts: 55 Comments: 6024
4. ColoradoBob1
12:05 AM GMT on June 18, 2014
The 8.43” 24-hour precipitation figure for Canton is just shy of the official South Dakota state record of 8.74” measured at Groton on May 6, 2007. Canton is an official NWS COOP site and much heavier unofficial 24-hour rainfalls have occurred in South Dakota at other locations in the past. Most notably the estimated 15” in about six hours that fell at a site called Nemo along the Box Elder Creek, and 14.5” at Sheridan Lake in the Black Hills on June 9, 1972. This event resulted in the disastrous Black Hills and Rapid City flood that killed 236, the 2nd deadliest flash flood in U.S. history (the Famous Johnstown, Pennsylvania flood of May 31, 1889 being the worst with 2,200 fatalities).

I was at Estes Park when the 1976 "Big Thompson Flood" came, When one of these things gets cranking there's so much water in the air, you feel like there's not enough oxygen floating around.

(the Famous Johnstown, Pennsylvania flood of May 31, 1889 being the worst with 2,200 fatalities).

There was a poorly maintained dam owned by the South Fork Hunting and Fishing Club that failed . ( These were some of the richest people of the gilded age )

David McCullough: made his bones writing about the this flood it's probably still in print

The Johnstown Flood: David McCullough

By the way , no one ever paid a dime because these rich people were trying to save a few dollars.
Member Since: August 13, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 2533
3. DonnieBwkGA
10:23 PM GMT on June 17, 2014
Thanks for the quick response! Your blogs are always so informative!
Member Since: June 29, 2013 Posts: 34 Comments: 2160
2. Christopher C. Burt , Weather Historian
10:22 PM GMT on June 17, 2014
Yes it was. The former record for June 1st was 2.14" in 1897. Surprsingly, the 3.00" on June 16th wasn't a daily record since Sioux Falls 2nd wettest day on record occurred on June 16th: 4.26" in 1957.

Quoting 1. DonnieBwkGA:

Looks like Sioux Falls got off to a good start with that 2.47" on the 1st. Was that a daily record as well?
Member Since: February 15, 2006 Posts: 305 Comments: 289
1. DonnieBwkGA
9:21 PM GMT on June 17, 2014
Looks like Sioux Falls got off to a good start with that 2.47" on the 1st. Was that a daily record as well?
Member Since: June 29, 2013 Posts: 34 Comments: 2160

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About weatherhistorian

Christopher C. Burt is the author of 'Extreme Weather; A Guide and Record Book'. He studied meteorology at the Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison.