Lightning causes several power surges around the Black Hills

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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - With thunderstorms frequently rumbling across the Black Hills over the past few weeks, lightning strikes can be a major issue.

Outside of the National Weather Service office in Rapid City. (KEVN)

Lightning recently struck near the radar equipment of the National Weather Service's Rapid City office.

Radars help meteorologists keep an eye on storms and estimate wind speeds and hail size, but because of the lightning strike, the weather service's radar is not transmitting data.

Luckily they have alternative tools.

"The new satellites that we have are a lot more detailed. We can get the data just every minute so it's a lot better than it used to be and so that's a great tool to supplement the radar. We can also have the weather service stations around the area. And if we're concerned about storms, we'll call our spotters to see what's happening on the ground," said Susan Sanders, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Rapid City.

Early Sunday morning, lightning struck Rapid City Fire Station 6, damaging the backup generator, phone system, and alarm system.

Jim White from Sound Pro says he's personally seen the problems that extra jolt of power can cause.

"In today's world, keep in mind, almost everything you buy in your house can plug into a circuit, but we also repair some beds. A lot of these new beds have motors in them and have electronic temperature controls, sometimes during lightning strikes, we'll see those devices fail. Certainly washers and dryers," said Jim White, vice-president of Sound Pro in Rapid City.

White says there's a simple thing you can do to help protect your devices from lightning.

"If you actually have lightning within your area, turn your main electronics off. Most people aren't going to go unplug their refrigerator and the washer and dryer and all that stuff, but turn your electronics off," added White.

White also recommends buying a surge protector to help save your electronics.

The National Weather Service's Rapid City office says the radar equipment, which is actually located in New Underwood, should be fixed by late Wednesday night or early Thursday morning.