Weather Forecast


Rain, hail and lightning hit Mitchell area

Cayla Koepsell, 15, of Canova, is illuminated by a flashlight on the desk in Canova Monday afternoon while waiting on customers at the Canova Service Center. Monday’s storm knocked out power in Canova in the afternoon. (Sean Ryan/Republic)

Hail, lightning and heavy rains marked much of the region Monday, as a strong storm whipped through southeastern South Dakota.

Lightning streaked across the sky in the early afternoon, and the Mitchell Fire Division responded to a lightning strike that hit a house. Capt. Steve Nedved said the owner at 609 Doris Court called in the strike after several breakers blew and all the hardwired smoke alarms went off. Firefighters responded to the scene in a downpour around 1 p.m. Nedved said the strike likely caused an electrical overcurrent, but he did not find any evidence of a fire at the scene.

Mitchell's street department employees were busy during the early afternoon as well, blocking off Kimball Street and Hackberry Avenue, and Havens Avenue and Lawler Street. Heavy rains caused flooding in those areas, said Jon Vermeulen, Mitchell's wastewater superintendent.

"If you look at that area, it's like a bowl," he said.

He said the wastewater system in those areas is not designed to take in large amounts of rain in short periods of time. When it happens, Vermeulen said the city has no choice but to block off the area and let the water drain out.

Afterward, employees will go into the storm sewer and make sure it's not blocked. They do this about once a year, otherwise, he said.

Mitchell received 91 hundredths of an inch of rain by 8 p.m., according to reports from a local weather observer, who also reported a smattering of pea-sized hail in parts of town.

Philip Schumacher, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sioux Falls, said the storm hit a large portion of southeastern South Dakota and floated into border states Iowa and Nebraska, producing wind, rain and hail. Schumacher said the highest wind gust recorded at the Mitchell airport was 38 mph, and said several counties were under severe thunderstorm and flood warnings for much of the day.

"There's been quite a bit of lightning and thunderstorm activity," Schumacher said, adding the NWS received unofficial reports of up to 7 inches of rain south of Sioux Falls, and ping-pong-sized hail.

The storms followed on the heels of a weekend thunderstorm that also brought rain and hail to the Mitchell area. A thunderstorm moved through Mitchell toward Alexandria at 3:35 a.m. Saturday, according to Schumacher, dropping 0.44 inches of rain, with reports of nickel- and dime-sized hail in Mitchell. Around midnight, wind gusts reached up to 30 mph from the south to southeast.

Monday's weather resulted in at least one injury accident, authorities said.

High Patrol Trooper Dan Podzimek said William Smith, driving a 1999 Harley Davidson, came up behind a 2012 Toyota Tundra pulling a camper, driven by 72-year-old Robert Nevil, around 1:30 p.m. on Monday, during the storm. They were heading east on Interstate 90, near mile marker 348, about four miles east of Alexandria.

Podzimek said Smith, of Carroll, Iowa, didn't see Nevil's vehicle, and ran into the back of the camper. Podzimek said Smith was transported by ambulance to Avera Queen of Peace in Mitchell with minor injuries, and the trooper noted that Smith's helmet likely saved him from more extensive injuries. Nevil, a 74-year-old from South Bend, Wash., was uninjured.

Lights out in Canova

Power outages also had an impact, including in the Miner County town of Canova, where a nearby power line needed to be fixed.

Xcel Energy reported 660 customers without power in the rural parts of Miner, McCook and Hanson counties. Those customers saw their power return shortly after 3 p.m.

At the Canova Service Center, business was still taking place despite being without power, which went out just before 1 p.m.

"We're just buying some snackies," said Patti Thompson, of Mitchell, with United Blood Services. Her staff was in town for a blood drive, which had been derailed by the power outage and was waiting out the storm at the flashlight-lit store.

Manager John Zens joked the power outage was likely to threaten the daily 2 p.m. card game played by some of the area's residents. In a follow-up interview, Zens said power returned about 2:30 p.m.

High wind speeds were also part of the storm, with region-high winds of 58 mph recorded on the southeast edge of Parkston.

Crop damage reported

The hail started as early as 7:40 a.m. in Lyman County, where pea- and quarter-sized hail were reported. Later in the day, pea-sized hail was reported in Woonsocket and Artesian in Sanborn County, and the same was found in Howard. No damage was recorded in Sanborn and Miner counties, but hail did damage crops near Montrose in McCook County on Monday afternoon, according to emergency officials.

County Emergency Manager Brad Stiefvater said up to 1-inch sized hail fell, along with 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 or more inches of rain within 40 minutes.

"I'm not sure of the size of the area of damage, but there was definitely crop damage. Some was totally shredded off," Stiefvater said, referring to corn crops.

The county also sustained some flash flooding as water washed out numerous county and township gravel roads. In particular, water went over S.D. Highway 38 at 448th Street east of Salem.

"It's kind of a ravine with a large culvert that's plugged by corn stalks," Stiefvater said.

He was out late Monday afternoon surveying the damage, and did not yet have an estimate of the damages' extent or cost.

Jerauld County Sheriff Jason Weber said the storm spared his county and only dropped pea-sized hail and up to an inch and a half of rain.