Rapid City's Rainbow Bright

01 June 2015

Last night we decided to commit to the storms forecast for the north for today which required 6 hours driving last night and a further 4 this morning. The overall risk covered much of the central and northern plains but north definitely looked better in terms of upper support (stronger upper winds) and the likelihood of more severe weather. Even so, there were still two areas where storms were expected to initiate – western Montana owing to a progressing cold front and also further east into the western Dakotas where a shortwave trough was going to push through later in the day.  We hedged our bets making our way to Belle Fourche in western South Dakota – a historic old cowboy town and one we refer to as ‘cream cheese’ owing to the fact we’re sure there’s a cheese of similar sounding name. From here we had good roads to venture northwest into Montana if we needed or further north to Buffalo or even Bowman in North Dakota.

As it happened we didn’t need to go anywhere for ages. In fact we spent most of the afternoon playing with the recently made bouncy ball we got as a gift from Kieran, flying the kite and photographing birds. We had found a good viewing spot looking west and kept an eye on the models with a fellow chaser from the UK.

Car Watching Storms


Cumulus Connestus

A few storms had been gently ongoing a little south down in Rapid City for most of the day but the lack of shear was causing them to initiate then rain themselves out on a cyclical basis and as such we were fairly sure this wasn’t to be the ‘main event’. However after about two hours of watching some other storms fire in the general vicinity that we were expecting and then fizzle out, amounting to nothing, we decided to head to Rapid City where the small collection of multi-cells had organised into a single storm which was transitioning into something that looked a bit more enticing, with a large anvil having now formed which was a good sign. Unfortunately timing wasn’t on our side and with the storm having back-built, the path around the back of it was now unpassable. There was only one road and the most severe part of the storm was right over it. As we approached we saw the Interstate was chocka with stationary cars, hazards flashing, having pulled off to avoid punching through the core of the storm. It was now showing signs of rotation and it was too sketchy to drive through. Got some nice rainbow shots though. Bloody rainbows!


Weaather double rainbow in rest area.jpg

The only option left was to venture into the Black Hills taking a wider path around the back of the storm, whose structure would look notably better from the south side. The forested hills were as frustrating as anticipated and left us no view and sketchy internet with a storm nearby that was clearly back-building in our direction. At one point it looked quite ominous as it loomed over the trees. Again, our plan was foiled.

Cloud Over Town

On the whole, it was quite a scenic trip through the hills and if there hadn’t been a storm in the vicinity it would have been a far less frustrating drive. We never really managed to get a good sighting of it and with the close of day both the storm fizzled and so did we feeling slightly annoyed that we had been sitting about 10 minutes from it all day and then missed the only route around it by about 10 minutes! Oh well, tomorrow is another day. The storm didn’t play ball, but I guess at least I got to!


SPC Day 1 Weather Outlook as at 06:00UTC (01:00 Central Time the night before)

SPC 01:00UTC day 1 forecast for Mon June 2015

SPC Day 1 Weather Reports for the day.

SPC storm reports for Mon June 2015

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