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Thunderstorms in Florida and Central U.S.; Fire Weather Threats in North Plains

Strong to severe storms may linger in Florida as a slow moving cold front continues east. A weather system in the Central U.S. may produce strong thunderstorms in the Middle Mississippi Valley. A Canadian cold front will produce gusty winds and critical fire weather threats in the North Plains. Fire weather threats are also elevated in Guam. Heavy rain could cause flash flooding in Hawaii. Read More >

Our Mission

"The National Weather Service (NWS) provides weather, hydrologic, and climate forecasts and warnings for the United States, its territories, adjacent waters and ocean areas, for the protection of life and property and the enhancement of the national economy. NWS data and products form a national information database and infrastructure which can be used by other governmental agencies, the private sector, the public, and the global community."

It is accomplished by providing warnings and forecast of hazardous weather, including thunderstorms, flooding, hurricanes, tornadoes, winter weather, tsunamis, and climate events. The NWS is the sole United States OFFICIAL voice for issuing warnings during life-threatening weather situations.

Area Of Responsibility

Every office in the National Weather Service has a County Warning Area (CWA). Our CWA includes all the 19 counties within the center yellow box.

County Warning Area (CWA)

Below is an image of all the County Warning Areas (CWA) in the United States.

United States County Warning Areas

Station Digest

Do you wonder what it would be like to work here?  Check out our Station Digest.

National Weather Service History

Local History

The "Weather Service" in Rapid City have a long history. We have compiled a brief synopsis of events since 1888.

January 1st, 1888

January 1st, 1888

The first Weather Service Office in Rapid City was opened on January 1, 1888. It was located in the Sweeney Building at the corner of 7th and Main Streets. The arrows in the photo point to the weather instruments. The Sweeney Building was destroyed by fire May 8, 1997.

January 1, 1897

Buell Building 1897 Rapid City

Picture courtesy of Minnilusa Historical Association, Journey Museum, Rapid City

On January 1, 1897 the station was moved to the Lakota Building on the corner of 7th and St. Joseph Streets, one block south of the Sweeney Building. This building is currently known as the Buell Building.

May 13th, 1914

1932 Picture of Office
This picture was taken in 1932.

On May 13, 1914 the Weather Office was moved to the former Federal Building on the corner of 8th and St. Joseph.

Weather Observation Equipment 1932

Weather Observation Equipment 1932

This was essentially the weather equipment (located on the roof of the Federal Building). At first weather observations were taken only twice daily. Then, beginning in the mid 1930's this was increased to four times daily, and in 1939 it was increased again to hourly around the clock.

Weather Instruments 1932

Weather Instruments 1932

This is a picture of the instruments on top of the Federal Building. You can see the wind direction and wind speed system in the foreground. The silver buckets in the background are for rain measurements.  The black instrument next to the wind system is unknown.

First Airport Station 1939

First Airport Station 1939

So that aviation as well as the general public could be served, the first airport station was established on January 19, 1939 at the former airport (now Ellsworth Air Force Base).

From January 1939 until August 1942, personnel were stationed at both the city office and the airport office. In 1942 all activities were consolidated at the airport office.

October 5th, 1950

October 5th, 1950

On October 5, 1950 the Weather Station was moved to the Administration Building at the Municipal Airport, which is about 10 miles east-southeast of Rapid City.

Collecting Upper-Air Data in 1963

Collecting Upper-Air Data in 1963

Two times a day the staff at the Weather Station released a weather balloon. While this balloon was in flight various atmospheric measurements were taken.

The piece of equipment in this picture was used to track and plot the balloons flight. The person sitting at the equipment has recently retired from our office. This picture was taken in August, 1963.

Rapid City Flood of 1972

Rapid City Flood of 1972

The Flood of Rapid City occurred on June 9, 1972. This flood caused extensive damage in Rapid city and the outlying towns. Totals included 238 deaths, 5 missing, 3,087 injured including, 118 hospitalized, 770 permanent homes and 565 mobile homes were destroyed, 2,035 permanent homes and 785 mobile homes were damaged. Total damage throughout the Black Hills was 165 million dollars.

This picture was taken on the corner of East Boulevard North and Omaha street. This was the location of Frontier Ford which is now McKie Ford.

Rapid City Flood of 1972 - More

It was estimated that the amount of rain that fell in the flood of 1972 was equivalent to 14.5 Pactola Reservoirs, or 800,000 acre feet. Put in a simpler way 1 million metric tons of water fell in the Black Hills area.

This picture was taken on Chapel Lane where Rapid Creek enters Canyon Lake.

Doppler Radar 1995

Doppler Radar 1995

In December 1995 the National Weather Service Office in Rapid City became the proud new owner of a WSR-88D Doppler Radar. This radar greatly enhances our ability to detect and track thunderstorms and other weather phenomena.

Balloon Release 1995

Balloon Release 1995

In November, 1995 the Upper Air tracking set was moved from the Airport Office to our City Office. This equipment is used to track the weather balloons which are launched twice daily.

Office 1995

Office 1995

In November, 1995 the Weather Station was moved from the Airport Office to its current location. The land was donated to the Weather Service by the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology. All services were consolidated in the City Office on November 11, 1995.



This is the Automated Surface Observing System. This system automatically measures wind speed and direction, rainfall accumulation, visibility, present weather conditions (rain, snow, fog, haze, etc.), and pressure. This information is then automatically transmitted to the National Weather Service main computer systems for dissemination.

August 1996

August 1996

In August 1996, the WSR-74C Radar was turned off for the last time. In July 1976, this person turned the WSR-74C on for the first time.

June, 2009

There have been many improvements to our Doppler Radar since 1995. Here, we find one of our Electronics Technicians tuning the radar and a picture of the radar tower.

An electronics technician tunes the dopper radar. NWS Doppler Radar

October 3-5, 2013 Historic Blizzard

An iconic image of our office on October 4, 2013 during the historic Fall blizzard. Additional information about the blizzard is available.

October 3, 2013 image of the NWS Rapid City Office during the historic blizzard


David Hintz - Meteorologist in Charge - Learn More
Susan Sanders - Warning Coordination Meteorologist
Dr. Matthew Bunkers - Science Operations Officer
Melissa Smith - Service Hydrologist
Alzina Foscato - Observation Program Leader
Robert Baye - Electronics Systems Analyst - Learn More
Kelly Whitaker - Information Technology Officer
Karen Maudlin - Administrative Support Assistant

Lead Forecasters

Kyle Carstens
Jon Chamberlain
Eric Helgeson - Learn More
Jeffrey Johnson - Learn More
Greg Richards


Alex Calderon
Shane Eagan
Katie Pojorlie
Scott Rudge
Dr. Keith Sherburn - Learn More
Stephen Trimarchi

Hydrometeorological Technicians

Mitchell Erickson

Electronics Technicians

Michael Ford
Nathan Rambo - Learn More