Forecast Discussion: Storms could help drought/fire efforts today and next week

As fire crews battle the Mine Draw Fire in Custer State Park, relief may be on the way in the short term, and the long term.


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  • A Crucial development this afternoon – A Severe Thunderstorm Warning has been issued for Custer County, directly over the Mine Draw Fire in Custer State Park Until 2 PM. Ping Pong ball sized hail has been indicated by radar. A few lightning strikes have been noted as well. Stay tuned with Newcenter1 for the latest.

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  • Much attention has been drawn to the Mine Draw Fire in Custer State Park.
  • For the latest on the Mine Draw Fire in Custer State park, you can click HERE
  • Most of the Black Hills and Northeastern Wyoming are in Moderate Drought conditions – with the I-25 corridor along the Bighorns seeing severe drought conditions.
  • Rapid City Regional Airport records that we are around 1.70″ below normal for this time of the year… for reference we were around 3″-4″ above normal this time last year.
  • Some areas are seeing levels that are far below that threshold in moisture deficiency.

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  • To start, lets break down the immediate forecast which does call for a few strong thunderstorms Thursday afternoon
  • Conditions over the next couple of hours will start to become unsettled an approaching cold front interacts with surface heating and rising dew points.
  • Storms will start to kick off in the next couple of hours.

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  • There is a Slight Risk (2/5) for isolated strong storms this afternoon and evening, particularly areas South and along I-90 as you head East towards Sioux Falls. This includes the communities of Hot Springs, Edgemont, Pine Ridge, Wall, Martin and Kadoka.
  • Isolated pockets of large hail and gusty winds will be possible in this area.
  • The areas in Green has a Marginal (1/5) risk for strong storms… so although the ingredients aren’t as favorable – just make sure you have a way to receive warnings in case a few rogue storms decide to misbehave. This include the I-90 corridor, Rapid City, Northeastern Wyoming and the Central and Northern Hills.

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  • On the grand scale of things, No need to cancel any plans so long as you have a reliable way to receive warnings and have contingency plans if you plan on being outside.

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  • Futurecast radar indicates that storms could kick off as soon as 1 PM in the Black Hills and the Bighorns.

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  • By 3 PM intensity is expected to pick up across the Black Hills, with some storms starting to drop heavier downpours and possibly small hail.
  • The good news is some of these downpours could help firefighting efforts in Custer State Park.
  • The double edged sword here is that lightning could prove problematic if downpours aren’t heavy enough to match convective activity of these thunderstorms – so far though moisture content and dewpoints should rise ahead of the approaching cold front.

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  • By 5 PM, a large cluster of strong storms is expected to push across Northeaster Wyoming heading East.
  • These storms could have isolated hail and gusty winds, and move towards the Black Hills at a fairly decent speed – remain alert as we approach the late afternoon.

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  • By 6-8 PM we’ll see most of these strong storms pushing into the Black Hills, with most models suggesting the Central and Southern Black Hills receiving the brunt of this activity.
  • Hopefully the large downpours will stretch far enough North to bring relief to Custer State Park – so far models indicate this is a good bet.

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  • By late tonight most storm activity will be subsiding with a few stragglers pushing through the region into the overnight.
  • Conditions will start clearing as we approach Friday morning.

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  • Friday through Sunday is expected to heat up and dry out, with widespread 90s expected this weekend.
  • As we approach next week however, widespread showers and thunderstorms could become more frequent with some major help of the jet stream.

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  • As we approach late June and early July, a cool air mass will plunge into the West coast.
  • The jet stream will follow, with the conveyor belt of energy now directed in a South/North trajectory. This will bring moisture, heat and humidity to the Northern Plains.
  • Although places like Iowa, Sioux Falls and the Mississippi River valley will only feel the heat, the Black Hills and Bighorn Region will be close enough to the Jet stream to receive a big boost to upper level activity.

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  • When air masses compete, Stormy weather wins. the 6-10 day temperatures outlook shows a very distinct boundary between the Rocky Mountains and the Northern Plains.
  • This battle between cool, dry air and hot, humid air will be the friction needed to keep thunderstorms in the forecast… for the long term.

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  • So long as the jet stream meanders its way across the Rocky Mountains, it will encourage unsettled weather well into the first week of July.
  • This could lead to stronger thunderstorms and in some cases severe weather outbreaks… but also lots of chances for healthy downpours.

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  • As a result, I’m putting healthy chances for afternoon thunderstorms in the forecast for next week, and possibly going into next weekend.
  • It’ll be overall hot and dry for this weekend, but by Sunday afternoon and evening the cold air mass will start to settle  West of us, allowing the jet stream to funnel in humid air from the South – perfect fuel for thunderstorms in the Black Hills.
  • As we approach next week, more than likely we’ll see drier days and more active days become more clear in the forecast – so Tuesday may end up being drier and Wednesday may end up being stormier – so if you have plans just be sure to keep a tab on the forecast as it’ll shift a bit as more data becomes available.


Overall, I’m pleased with what the long range pattern is showing… given the time of year we’re in it couldn’t come at a better time. Large, synoptic scale (large weather patterns) will be our best bet to receive significant moisture – and that’s what the forecast calls for if we’re to believe long range jet stream models.

Having that said, any slight shift of the jet stream could push the party a little farther West and leave us very hot and very dry… so here’s hoping cold air pushes far enough East to bring the much needed upper level energy our direction.

Be safe this afternoon, we appreciate you trusting us with your forecast. We know folks are looking for the rain, and we’re not trying to give false hope — there’s plenty of good evidence that this forecast pans out and help things all around. We just need a little extra push from Mother Nature – and it’s my personal thought that she’ll deliver just in time for Independence Day. – Brant


Categories: Local News, Weather Daily