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Catching wind of four tornados that swept The Hills

Published: May. 27, 2021 at 4:56 PM MDT|Updated: May. 27, 2021 at 4:57 PM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - A majority of South Dakota is in Tornado Alley, and the weather is starting to show that it’s that time of the year.

Dave Hintz, the Meteorologist in charge for Rapid City’s National Weather Service, says that averages show there’s more to come.

“We’re moving into our strongest time for tornados,” says Hintz. “We had two up in Perkins County and then we had two down in Custer County.”

Usually, the end of May sees two tornados. So, four isn’t incredibly unusual, and most of the time they’re not severe. That’s not to say, they’re not dangerous.

“Any tornado can be deadly,” says Hintz, “even EF0s and EF1s. The real weak tornados, it all depends on what they hit, where you are and if you’re in a place of safety.”

Tornados are ranked on an EF scale. Ranging from zero, with the weakest wind speeds between 65 and 85 miles per hour, to 5, with the strongest windspeeds that are 200 plus miles per hour.

“The peak time for tornados in this part of the country is anywhere from about 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. We can have tornados at anytime of the day,” Hintz says.

Don’t get caught in a bad place. Tune to your preferred means of receiving news to make sure that you’re somewhere that you and your family will be safe.

“Anytime you hear a tornado warning, get into a place of safety. Get into your safe shelter,” says Hint, “ and don’t be out in the street. Don’t be trying to take pictures.”

The Rapid City weather forecast service will usually put out around 300 severe thunderstorm and tornado warnings per year. A majority of those are made May through August. Most years, the Rapid City office is ranked in the top ten for warnings issued nationally. 2020 saw a count of 426 warnings, fifth in the country.

“They come up pretty quickly. Again, know where you’re going to go. Whether it’s an interior hallway, an interior bathroom. Whether you have a basement that you can get into. Know where your safe place. Know where your safe shelter is. So,” says Hintz, “when that tornado warning is issued you can get their quickly.”

May and June see most of the annual Rapid City area tornados.

A majority of tornados are rated as EF0 or EF1, significant tornados are ranked EF2 or higher. Since 1950, South Dakota has seen around 70 significant tornados touch down.

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