Straight-lined winds hammered southeastern South Dakota on Thursday night, causing widespread damage across several communities and counties. There have been two confirmed fatalities.
Second fatality reported in South Dakota storms
Deadly winds and tornadoes Thursday that stretched across eastern South Dakota claimed at least two lives.
Authorities announced during a morning news conference that a Wentworth woman was killed in the storm Thursday evening south of Colton when struck by storm debris.
Minnehaha County Sheriff Mike Milstead said the victim, 61-year-old Wendy Lape, was traveling home with her husband in a vehicle when the incident occurred at 5:11 p.m. as straight line winds arrived to the area.
“The wall of dust and dirt and debris hit them. They slowed down to probably under 5 miles per hours because of the almost zero visibility from the blowing debris and a chunk of wood came through the window of the car,” the sheriff said, noting that storm debris had restricted first responders’ access to the seen.
Nearby residents used heavy machinery to help clear the roadways, he said.
City of Sioux Falls confirms one fatality
Update 9:30 p.m.: One person died Thursday during severe weather in Sioux Falls, according to the Sioux Falls emergency manager Regan Smith.
Smith confirmed one person had died and more information would be released at 10 a.m. Friday during the media briefing.
Governor Kristi Noem is aware of the fatality. While in Castlewood, addressing the public after surveying the damage in, she said there were injuries and a fatality.
“Tonight is a rough night, so I’m glad you’re all safe,” she said. “(There are) some communities where everybody isn’t.”
Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken offered his condolences.
“This storm claimed the life of one of our residents,” he told the Argus Leader. “My prayers are with her family as they deal with this unimaginable loss.”
SDSU closes campus Friday for cleanup
Update 9:25 p.m.: The South Dakota State University campus in Brookings will be closed Friday due to power loss and recovery efforts, according to the university.
Only essential employees will be allowed on campus, according to an alert from the campus alert system.
Students and staff will be notified when the campus is back open.
Extensive damage reported at nursing home in Salem
The Avantara nursing home in Salem suffered extensive damage during Thursday’s storm.
Neighbors said that they witnessed patients being evacuated around 5 p.m..
Patients were taken to the Salem Armory, according to the McCook Emergency Manager.
He said that the nursing home had part of the roof torn off and suffered water damage.
Extensive power outages across region
Over 4,500 SD Rural Electric members are without power in Minnehaha County and over 2,600 members without power in Brookings County. Over 2,100 Lake county members are also without power.
There’s also over 8,700 Xcel customers in Sioux Falls without power. Over 4,500 Sioux Valley customers in Minnehaha County don’t have power either.
Nearly 2,600 Sioux Valley Energy customers in Brookings County are without power and another 2,100 customers in Lake do not have power either.
Gov. Noem to survey damage in Castlewood
The school in Castlewood was badly damaged when a tornado ripped through the Hamlin County town Thursday evening.
Gov. Kristi Noem is scheduled to visit Castlewood later tonight.
The roof of the school was ripped off and walls are down with debris scattered around the school grounds.
There are tree branches and debris is scattered around town. Power has been knocked out, and power lines are down in around around Castlewood.
A spokesman for Noem also confirmed that there was heavy damage caused by the storm in Castlewood.
At least two homes in Castlewood were damaged by a tornado, according to a National Weather Service report.
‘I got to move away:’ Hartford residents describe damage
Hartford residents are cleaning up from the recent storm that left extensive damage in town. The sound of chainsaws could be heard as neighbors in one area worked to clear fallen trees.
“I could feel the window bend with the wind, I said, ‘Nope, I got to move away,'” Jon Doss said.
He said that his sister who lives across the street had a tree fall on her roof.
The Minnehaha County Emergency Manager said that there wasn’t a tornado in the area and that the damage came from straight-line winds.
Travel for only emergency purposes advised in Sioux Falls
Update 6:15 p.m.: The Sioux Falls Police Department is advising people only travel for emergency purposes following severe weather.
“There are several trees, and powerlines down.. Refrain from leaving to inspect area damage yourself please,” the police tweeted.
City agencies, the police department and Sioux Falls Fire Rescue are assessing damage across town, the tweet stated.
“Lots of debris and damage in the city from this recent storm,” mayor Paul TenHaken said in a tweet. “Please assume all downed power lines are live. Crews are being deployed to deal with power and related challenges. Please avoid going out if possible.”
The city of Sioux Falls is hosting a news conference at 10 a.m. Friday to discuss the storm damage, power outages and cleanup efforts.
Tornado damage reported in northeastern South Dakota
Update 6:00 p.m.: The National Weather Service is reporting there was tornado damage in northeastern South Dakota.
Two houses and a school were damaged in Castlewood by a tornado that came into town around 5:50 p.m., according to the NWS.
The damage is a preliminary report, according to the NWS.
Outages leave more than 10,000 without power in Sioux Falls
Xcel Energy’s website reports 112 outages near Sioux Falls, impacting more than 11,000 customers. Many of the reports say that crews are still assessing damages.
Sioux Valley Energy is reporting 107 outages, 95 of them in Minnehaha County.
And South Dakota Rural Electric is reporting 1,060 outages, 147 of them in Minnehaha County.
High winds recorded across eastern South Dakota
Update 5:15 p.m.: Heavy wind gusts were recorded Thursday evening as a strong storm headed through the eastern South Dakota region.
Below is a list of the gusts, all above 60 mph, that were clocked by the National Weather Service.
60-70 mph winds: Sioux Falls (63 mph gust)
70-80 mph winds: Three miles south of Sioux Falls (78 mph gust)
80-90 mph winds: Dolton (80 mph gust); Centerville (82 mph gust); Freeman (84 mph gust); Gayville (89 mph gust)
90-100mph winds: Huron (90 mph gust); Madison (96 mph)
100+mph winds: Tripp (107 mph gust)
81 mph winds near Colton
79 mph gusts near Brookings
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Severe thunderstorm warning issued for Sioux Falls, Brandon, Madison
Update 4:40 p.m.: A “life threatening” severe thunderstorm warning has been issued for Sioux Falls and the surrounding area, according to the National Weather Service.
The warning lasts until 5:30 p.m., according to the NWS.
Winds are expected to be up to 80 mph and penny-sized hail is possible, according to the NWS. A tornado is also possible during this time.
In the area are Sioux Falls, Brandon, Dell Rapids, Harrisburg, Wakonda, Canistota and Madison, according to the warning.
Severe thunderstorm watch issued for eastern South Dakota with winds up to 105: NWS
Update: 4:15 p.m: A “particularly dangerous situation” severe thunderstorm watch has been issued for southeastern South Dakota and parts of western Iowa and Minnesota until 10 p.m.
Widespread gusts up to 105 mph are possible with potential damage from scattered hail up to two-inches in size and a couple possible tornadoes.
In the alert, the NWS stated it was a particularly dangerous situation, language that isn’t rarely used for severe thunderstorm watches.
“Pockets of significant wind damage are highly likely, along with the potential for large hail and possible a line-embedded tornado or two,” the NWS said in its watch issuance.
The watch includes the South Dakota cities of Mitchell, Madison, Sioux Falls, Yankton and Vermillion.
Tornado watch issued for Brookings, Aberdeen and Pierre: NWS
Update: 4 p.m.: A tornado watch has been issued until 10 p.m. for parts of central and northern South Dakota, according to the NWS.
Aberdeen, Brookings, Pierre and Watertown are all under a tornado watch, according to the NWS. A couple strong tornadoes are possible along with scattered hail up to the size of a tennis ball.
Wind gusts are expected to be up to 90 mph, according to the NWS.
Eastern South Dakota upgraded to ‘moderate risk’
Update 3:00 p.m.: The National Weather Service has updated the convective outlook for severe weather in the Sioux Falls region on Thursday.
There’s currently a moderate risk of severe weather, according to NWS.
For southeastern South Dakota, large hail and winds in excess of 80 mph are the main risks, with tornadoes possible in the central and northeastern part of the state.
Severe weather set for South Dakota today
The region is set for another round of severe weather Thursday afternoon and evening.
The day will start with above-average temperatures, with the NWS in Sioux Falls forecasting the city’s maximum heat index to be in the 90s, nearing the record high set in 1907.
Later tonight, the NWS is forecasting a “moderate” risk of severe weather for parts of eastern South Dakota, which is fourth on a five-point scale of severe weather risks.
Damaging winds, large hail and even a tornado or two are possible, with the tornado threat greater in northeastern South Dakota.
What’s the forecast for South Dakota today?
Scattered thunderstorms could develop in central South Dakota and Nebraska by the late afternoon, according to the NWS.
Storms will merge into a line as they approach the Interstate Highway 29 corridor by the early evening. Threats with the strongest storms will include very large hail and damaging winds, according to the NWS.
Due to recent and expected heavy rain, flash flooding is possible in some areas. A few tornadoes and high temperatures near record values and heat index values in the 90s this afternoon are also possible, according to the NWS.
Winds could be in excess of 80 mph with the storms, the NWS says.
When could the severe weather start?
The timeline for severe weather risks in Sioux Falls and surrounding areas is from 4 p.m. Thursday to 1 a.m. Friday, according to the NWS. The main risk for severe weather will be from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Thursday in eastern South Dakota.
Up to 2 inches of rain are possible in Sioux Falls and surrounding areas.
A look at the forecast for the days ahead in Sioux Falls, according to the NWS:
Thursday Night: Showers and thunderstorms, mainly before 1 a.m. Friday. Some of the storms could be severe. Low around 54. Breezy, with a south southwest wind 15 to 20 mph decreasing to 10 to 15 mph in the evening. Winds could gust as high as 35 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80%. New rainfall amounts between a quarter and half of an inch possible.
Friday: Sunny, with a high near 76. West southwest wind 10 to 15 mph, with gusts as high as 25 mph.
Friday Night: Mostly clear, with a low around 51. West wind 5 to 10 mph becoming south after midnight.
Saturday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 76. South southwest wind 5 to 10 mph becoming west northwest in the afternoon.
Saturday Night: A slight chance of showers and thunderstorms after 1 a.m. Sunday. Partly cloudy, with a low around 49. North wind 5 to 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20%.
Sunday: Sunny, with a high near 74.
Sunday Night: Mostly clear, with a low around 48.
Monday: Sunny, with a high near 74.
Monday Night: A chance of showers and thunderstorms after 1 a.m. Tuesday. Partly cloudy, with a low around 50. Chance of precipitation is 30%.
Tuesday: Partly sunny, with a high near 72.
Tuesday Night: A chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly cloudy, with a low around 53. Chance of precipitation is 30%.
Wednesday: A chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly sunny, with a high near 73. Chance of precipitation is 30%.
This article originally appeared on Sioux Falls Argus Leader: Severe weather hits South Dakota, killing 2. Here’s how storm happened