Strong gusty winds caused problems for RVers, truckers, electrical crews, and even buildings in the Dakotas for the past two days (Wednesday and Thursday, October 17 and 18), has finally moved on.
According to the National Weather Service, strong northwest winds of 50 mph—gusting to 70 mph—persisted across South Dakota yesterday.
The South Dakota Department of Transportation advised motorists that extremely high winds were making travel difficult across the state, especially for high-profile vehicles such as semis, trucks, buses, and SUVs.
Motorists were advised to use extreme caution as many semis and vehicles tipped over on and along many roadways, especially in central and western South Dakota.
Gusting winds pushed trees onto several highways and blew down power lines and poles, causing temporary delays until highway maintenance crews arrived to clear the roads, according to an Associated Press report.
In the Black Hills area the Needles Highway was closed due to falling trees. Winding roads with a high number of pine-beetle infested trees were the areas of greatest concern.
KOTA reports that 77-mile-an-hour wind gusts broke off the top of a 40-foot electrical pole in Fort Pierre, and wind flipped a recreational vehicle at Fort Randall Dam.
Scattered power outages were reported across South Dakota and North Dakota. There was a power outage in the Black Hawk area around 2 a.m. Thursday but was restored around 3.
A building under construction in the New England North Dakota area collapsed. Tumbleweeds in Dickinson piled up as high as some buildings. Hess Corp. shut down some oil rig activity in the region.
“There is a low pressure system off to our east, and it’s creating a tight pressure gradient across the area. With a tighter pressure gradient, you get stronger winds,” meteorologist Katie Pojorlie of the National Weather Service office in Rapid City told the Associated Press.
As of about 3 p.m. Wednesday, the highest wind gust measured in western South Dakota blew across Union Center weather station at 72 mph, she said.
Downtown Rapid City logged a 68 mph wind gust, while Rapid City Regional Airport saw a 66 mph gust and 44 mph sustained winds, Pojorlie said.
A cold front also rolled in with the wind Tuesday night, dropping temperatures from the 60s and 70s to the 40s and 50s, Pojorlie said.
Sometime before 9 a.m. Wednesday, the wind is believed to have pushed a tree across a power line and on top of a house, Pojorlie said. The fire department responded, although no fire was started as a result of the fallen power line, she said. The fire crew waited until Black Hills Power arrived to handle it.
About 3:30 a.m., a small fire started on top of a power pole along East Philadelphia Street, and embers were falling from it, Colby said. A fire crew responded to keep the fire confined to the pole and waited for Black Hills Power to arrive to put out the fire, she said.
A fire is one of the department’s biggest concerns during a high wind event, Colby said.
“The wind will spread that fire quickly. It makes it very difficult to control,” Colby said.
On the fourteenth day of April in 1935
There struck the worst of dust storms that ever filled the sky…
From Oklahoma City to the Arizona Line
Dakota and Nebraska to the lazy Rio Grande
It fell across our city like a curtain of black rolled down,
We thought it was our judgment, we thought it was our doom…
—Woody Guthrie, from his song, The Great Dust Storm