Black Hills Area Floods - 1941 to 1950

Science Center Objects

Black Hills Area Floods - 1941 to 1950

Look under the Multimedia table for pictures and more information regarding the event date and location, flow data (if available), a brief summary of the event, and links to available photographs or scanned newspaper articles.

Moderate to severe flooding occurred in Hot Springs along the Fall River in 1941 with a peak flow of 4,700 cubic feet per second (ft3/s) and again in 1947 with a peak flow of 8,300 ft3/s.  Minor flooding also occurred in 1944 in Hot Springs. These were the last substantial floods prior to construction of two flood-control reservoirs within the Fall River Basin.

Substantial flooding occurred in May 1946 in various streams in the northern Black Hills, which resulted from prolonged, heavy precipitation.  Flooding occurred along Bear Butte Creek, and a May 31 article in the Lead Call reported that Spearfish Creek was as high as it had been during the flood of 1933 when the railroad bed in Spearfish Canyon was washed out.  A peak flow of 9,800 ft3/s was recorded on May 24, 1946, at station 06437500 along Bear Butte Creek about 15 miles northeast of Sturgis. A monthly precipitation total of 18.61 inches was recorded in Deadwood for May 1946, with very large monthly totals for other precipitation stations in the northern Black Hills.



Driscoll, D.G., Hamade, G.R., and Kenner, S.J., 2000, Summary of precipitation data for the Black Hills area of South Dakota, water years 1931–98: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 00–329, 151 p.

Miller, J.R., 1986, Rapid City climate: Rapid City, South Dakota School of Mines and Technology Foundation, 66 p.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 2008, The Rapid City flood of 1972—historic Black Hills floods, accessed December 12, 2008, at

U.S. Geological Survey, 2009, National Water Information System (NWISWeb)—Peak streamflow for South Dakota: U.S. Geological Survey database,