Heavy rain, high winds and hail blitz the Black Hills, USA

Severe Weather Alert

Storms that raged through the Black Hills Monday afternoon and evening seemed to throw their biggest punches at the city of Custer.
At least a half-foot of hail accumulated there, making late July seem like mid-February.
Custer Mayor Jared Carson said snowplows and front-end loaders, a street sweeper and a vacuum truck were used to clear streets after the storm blitzed the city with mostly pea- and dime-sized hail for more than 30 minutes starting at about 5 p.m.
“The size of the hail wasn’t the issue,” Carson said. “It was the amount.”
In addition to coating Custer with hail, the series of severe storms pounded the Black Hills with torrential rain and high winds.
The series of storms deluged Rapid City late Monday afternoon, with the official mark of 0.74 inch of rain, eclipsing the old July 27 record of 0.63 inch in 1953, according to the National Weather Service.
Estimates of the depth of hailstones in Custer were 8 to 10 inches, compounded by more than two inches of rain that washed waves of hail into low-lying areas of downtown Custer, Carson said.
“The whole road was full (of hail),” said Dan Grapentine, assistant manager of Lynn’s DakotaMart on Mount Rushmore Road.
“When the plows got done, there were six-foot high piles of it,” he said.
Meteorologist Jeff Johnson of the National Weather Service in Rapid City said a cold front drove the intense storms across the state.
The National Weather Service received reports of 3 1/2-inch diameter hail southeast of Hill City at 5 p.m., with hail 1 3/4 inches in diameter reported in three locations: northwest of Mount Rushmore, west of Stoneville in Meade County and northeast of Galena in Lawrence County.
Johnson said meteorologists often can’t tell if a storm is packing small amounts of large-diameter hailstones, or massive quantities of small hail.
“Sometimes, that will show up on radar as the same thing,” he said.
Deb Wallenberg and Jim Understock could only watch as hail clogged street gutters in front of their business on Custer’s Main Street, Frontier Photo, forcing water into the building’s basement.
“The water had to go somewhere,” Wallenberg said.
Grapentine said heavy runoff also flooded the front of his store.
Friends brought shop vacuums to help Wallenberg and Understock clear about 6 inches of water from their basement.
Employees and shoppers armed with mops pitched in to help clear wet floors at DakotaMart, Grapentine said.  
“It was a little bit exciting yesterday,” Carson said in a Tuesday interview.
Wallenberg said they helped several motorcyclists roll their rides onto the sidewalk and park under awnings during the storm.
“I think they really appreciated that,” she said.
Black Hills residents may be getting accustomed to such calendar-defying events. Two weeks ago, a similar hailstorm made driving treacherous on U.S. Highway 16 south of Rapid City in the Rockerville area.
The Monday line of thunderstorms packed straight-line winds in excess of 60 miles per hour. The strongest gusts recorded by the National Weather Service included 73 mph blasts near Red Elm, in Ziebach County, at 7:48 p.m., and later east of Wanblee, in Jackson County, at 10:18 p.m.
The Rapid City Regional Airport recorded a 72 mph gust at 5:55 p.m. 
Wallenberg said unmelted piles of hail still remained behind her store Tuesday afternoon.
“It’s kind of funny,” she said. “It looks like snow.”
Courtesy of rapidcityjournal.com

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