Rain reign continues

By Jason Ferguson

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Fresh off the wettest year in the recorded history of Custer — 2018 — Custer is on pace to have … the wettest year in the recorded history of Custer.

To date, Custer has officially received 21.03 inches of precipitation in 2019 (the Aug. 2 storm produced “only” 2.03 inches of rain at the official recording point at the Custer County Airport), putting it a mere 5.54 inches of precipitation away from last year’s all-time high of 26.57 inches.

“The year is still young,” said Timothy Gunkel, student meteorologist trainee with the National Weather Service in Rapid City.

Through Aug. 23, Custer had received above-average precipitation for every month except for April, when it fell .12 inches shy of the average. The driest month to date has been January, when .37 inches was received, while May was the wettest month with 5.10 inches of precipitation. August checked in with 4.42 inches, well above the average of 2.33 inches.

The top five wettest years in Custer history have all happened since 2013. The second-wettest year was 2015, with 23.27 inches, followed by 2013 with 22.32. The fourth-wettest year was 2017, while 2019 is already the fifth-wettest year in history.

Custer is not alone in its wet weather. Gunkel said the rain has been Hills-wide, and Rapid City is on pace to have its wettest two-year period in recorded history.

“It’s the entire region. It’s been consistently rainy. It never seems to end,” he said. “There is a lot of moisture everywhere.”

Gunkel said the wet weather is a result of the area being in a “trough pattern,” where short waves come through, creating precipitation and severe weather. In the past few weeks, waves have come through and have continued to pull moisture, keeping the threat of rain a constant. That’s not typically the case in August.

“It definitely is very unusual,” he said.

Gunkel said a wet summer doesn’t automatically mean a cold, snowy winter. It might feel like winter is approaching this week, however, as a cooler pattern comes over the Hills, bringing colder temperatures — and yes, likely more rain.

“It’s going to feel a little more like fall for a while,” he said.