David Dodge and Kari King were driving west on Interstate 90 near Piedmont on Friday when a flurry of large hail began pounding their windshield.
"There was just nowhere to go," Dodge said.
Their afternoon trip to Deadwood turned into a nightmare: ice chunks the size of softballs battered the windshield of King's 2013 Dodge Avenger, spraying shards of glass across the dashboard.
"It was like somebody was shooting at you," King said. "It was bad."
The barrage lasted for five minutes, and at one point King thought, "I'm going to die."
The Box Elder roommates survived the storm without injury, but the sedan will need some work. It was one of a number of vehicles on I-90 that were damaged by the storm, which also spawned tornadoes.
There were three separate reports of tornadoes: one near Newell, a second on U.S. Highway 212 close to the South Dakota-Wyoming state line, and a third in Savoy. All were reported around 4:20 p.m., according to Alzina Foscato, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Rapid City.
"Just correct ingredients," Foscato said of the conditions that led up to the storm — a cold front that moved into the area, clashing with warmer air.
No injuries were reported from the storm, but the hail damaged vehicles along I-90 and busted house windows in Lead and Deadwood. The tornadoes also downed tree limbs. Foscato said the weather service was still assessing damage.
Jacqi Harlan and her husband, Randall, were driving on Elk Creek Road in Piedmont when the worst of the hail started at 5:45 p.m. and lasted about two minutes. They pulled off at Exit 46 to wait it out when, Jacqi said, a softball-sized piece of hail hit her windshield.
“When the second one hit, I swore it was going to come through,” she said.
It didn’t, but her windshield was heavily damaged. And the Harlans reported seeing many other vehicles with windows broken out, mailboxes blown open and smashed, as well as fireworks tents collapsed.
“It was scary,” Jacqi said.
After the pummeling, the Harlans said the roads were coated in hail 2 to 3 inches deep.
The weather service received reports of hail sizes in the Black Hills ranging from 1.2 inches to 4.5 inches, with the largest falling in Newell.