PINE RIDGE | A strong storm pounded Pine Ridge Indian Reservation on Monday night with baseball-size hail, shattering home and car windows and sending families scrambling for cover.
Curtis Whitecrane, who lives just south of Sharps Corner along BIA Highway 27, was at home when the storm hit. "We had to put all our kids in the living room because their windows were all busted and water was gushing in there and the wind,” he said.
Two of his cars also suffered windshield damage, and the heavy rain caused minor flooding in his basement. “Strong winds with the (rain) just messed up everything,” Whitecrane said.
He said the storm lasted around an hour. "It looked like snow out here. The hail was dropping, it was all white and after that it started raining. A gush of water coming down.”
One of Whitecrane's neighbors, Joyce Whiting, said her family was forced to sleep in the living room of their home Monday night because there was so much broken glass in the bedroom. Baseball-size hail struck her home for around 10 minutes, she said, "then it got smaller and that lasted longer, like 20 minutes.”
William He Crow and Melania White Face, who live on Big Bear Road, said the hail damaged the siding on their home and broke a window. During the heaviest part of the storm, it sounded like someone was throwing rocks at their home, White Face said.
"It would quit, and it would start back up," she said. "It was kind of scary. We had our youngest son with us, so we just made him stay away from the windows.”
The National Weather Service received reports of wind speeds exceeding 60 mph around Rapid City, northeast of Porcupine and northwest of Belle Fourche. A peak wind gust of 66 mph was recorded at the weather service office in Rapid City.
In addition to the baseball-size hail in Oglala Lakota County, the storm also produced golf-ball-size hail in Piedmont, Black Hawk and Rapid City.
Radar-indicated rainfall amounts ranged from 2 to 4 inches over the region, with 2.33 inches reported in the Piedmont area and 2.65 inches around Porcupine.
The weather service reported 1.56 inches of rain in Rapid City, said meteorologist Melissa Smith. The heavy rain, falling in just a few minutes, caused Rapid Creek flow totals to spike Monday evening at about 400 cubic feet per second from an average of about 65 cubic feet per second, according to a U.S. Geological Survey stream gauge.
Rushmore Mall experienced some flooding and water damage, mainly contained on the west end. Rana Graham, owner of Beautylicious by Rana Toning Center in the mall, said she felt fortunate because her business is on a higher ground level and didn't sustain much damage. But she reported several vehicles in the parking lot being "buried" by the hail and rain.
Rushmore Mall officials said crews worked through the night to make sure damage from the storm was cleared up.