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Record-Breaking Downpour Inundates Sioux Falls

June 17, 2004|From Associated Press

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — A two-hour storm dumped nearly 8 inches of rain on southwest Sioux Falls early Wednesday, flooding streets and basements and spilling the Big Sioux River into parks and across bike trails.

"The ground is totally saturated," said Lyle Johnson, Sioux Falls' director of public works.

Johnson said the flooding was the worst he had seen in his 22-year career.

Severe storms in late May already saturated the area, and the city would need a string of dry days to recover from the downpour, he said.

"We can handle a shower or two, but a heavy rainstorm would be devastating," he said.

The downpour helped smash a nearly 100-year-old record. A total of 12.74 inches of rain fell at the airport from May 17 to Wednesday, topping the record for rainfall during a 31-day period set in 1909, when 12.23 inches fell, said meteorologist Jeff Chapman.

Several parks were closed along the river.

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