NWS confirms derecho swept through southeastern South Dakota with winds up to 99 mph

·5 min read

For the second time since mid-May, residents of southeastern South Dakota, including Sioux Falls, are picking up debris from backyards and fallen trees after another derecho moved its way through the tri-state area.

Thousands across the state, stretching from Woonsocket to Canton, were also left without power for hours after the long-lasting wind storm swept through, according to data from Xcel Energy's outage map online.

The storm moved into the Sioux Falls area between 3 and 3:30p.m., bringing black, blue, grey and even murky green skies and dumping a swath of rain from Huron to Iowa, with anywhere from 3 to 5 inches throughout, according to Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network, a grassroots network of backyard weather observers who help gather information for meteorologists, including the National Weather Service.

By the end of the storm close to 5:30 p.m., nearly 30,000 people were without power, of which more than 26,000 were in the Sioux Falls area.

By 10 p.m., roughly 7,000 were still without, as law enforcement and first responders helped neighborhoods and drivers navigate downed wires and localized flooding from rush hour onward.

As of 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, an estimated 3,500 customers in the Sioux Falls area were still without power, according to Xcel Energy.

Green skies as a storm rolls in on Tuesday, July 5, 2022, in Sioux Falls.
Green skies as a storm rolls in on Tuesday, July 5, 2022, in Sioux Falls.

A derecho is  "a widespread, long-lived wind storm that is associated with a band of rapidly moving showers or thunderstorms," according to the service's website.

"By definition, if the wind damage swath extends more than 240 miles and includes wind gusts of at least 58 mph (93 km/h) or greater along most of its length, then the event may be classified as a derecho," the NWS website states.

How high did winds get?

Peak winds so far were measured at 96 mph in Huron, and 99 mph near Howard, the NWS stated via social media. Wind gusts in Sioux Falls reached up to 80 mph at the Sioux Falls Regional Airport and multiple severe thunderstorm warnings were issued, calling the storm "destructive." Only one tornado warning was also issued for Minnehaha County, which included the northwest portion of the area.

More: Tuesday storm in Sioux Falls 'not even comparable' to May derecho, officials say

"Flying debris will be dangerous to those caught without shelter," one of the warnings stated at the time. "Mobile homes will be heavily damaged. Expect considerable damage to roofs, windows, and vehicles. Extensive tree damage and power outages are likely."

The highest winds in the May 12 derecho included a measured 107 mph gust in Tripp, according to the NWS website. Tuesday's derecho also did not bring high amounts of dust and debris that lead to "near zero visibility" in some areas, as in the May derecho.

More: Here's how to report a power outage in South Dakota to Xcel Energy or Sioux Valley Energy

The City of Sioux Falls also reported via social media that officials were responding to multiple "reports of vehicles trapped in flooded intersections."

"Please avoid traveling," the social media post urged. The NWS also urged residents to remain inside or to "seek shelter immediately" throughout the storm.

Employees at Blue Nile Auto, however, had to stay on their toes after a fire broke out at their shop on 10th Street in Sioux Falls on Tuesday, because of downed power lines.

More: South Dakota farmers made progress on planting, but northeastern counties still too wet

Shop owner Kefyalew Bereded told the Argus Leader the fire started at about 4:45 p.m. when strong, 80 mph winds hit the city and knocked down a tree branch, which hit a power line near the shop.

The sparks started a small fire on the roof an attached garage. Bereded said smoke alerted employees to the flames and they managed to extinguish the fire before firefighters arrived. Firefighters remained on-scene to clean up smoke damage.

Firefighters monitor Blue Nile Auto for smoke after a downed power line started a fire on the roof of the shop garage Tuesday, July 5, 2022. Peak 80 mph wind gusts scattered tree debris throughout Sioux Falls, including a large branch behind the auto shop that started the fire.
Firefighters monitor Blue Nile Auto for smoke after a downed power line started a fire on the roof of the shop garage Tuesday, July 5, 2022. Peak 80 mph wind gusts scattered tree debris throughout Sioux Falls, including a large branch behind the auto shop that started the fire.

Exactly how many people may have been injured during the storm or how many rescues had to be conducted by first responders after the storm was not known as of late Tuesday night.

More information may be available at Sioux Falls Police Department next briefing with media at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday.

More: Sioux Falls' sky turned green amid severe weather. See the strange phenomenon in photos

What do the next few days look like?

Here's a look at the Sioux Falls forecast for the days ahead, according to the NWS:

Wednesday: A chance of showers and thunderstorms, mainly after noon. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 85. East wind 5 to 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 40%.

Wednesday night: A chance of showers and thunderstorms, mainly before 3 a.m. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 68. East wind 5 to 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 40%.

Thursday: A chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly sunny, with a high near 84. East northeast wind 5 to 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 30%.

Thursday night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 66. Northeast wind 5 to 10 mph.

Friday: Sunny, with a high near 86. East northeast wind 5 to 10 mph.

More: Derecho caused more than $900,000 in storm damages to Minnehaha County

To see future updates from the NWS, and stay weather aware, follow @argus911 on Twitter.

Got a story idea from your community? Email reporter Alfonzo Galvan at agalvan@argusleader.com or follow him on Twitter @GalvanReports.

This article originally appeared on Sioux Falls Argus Leader: Thousands without power after derecho moves through Sioux Falls