Fierce Hail Storm Blasts Sturgis Rally

sturgishailsturgishailbissturgishail3South Dakota summer weather is always unpredictable. And going from 95F with blue skies to hail storm in one hour and back to 95F is not unusual (I experienced hail while riding Custer Park a few years ago.It hurts…). But the 2009 rally has been plagued by more storms than usual.

A fierce hail storm blasted the Sturgis area late Friday afternoon, injuring at least two people, smashing windows of cars and of several homes and damaging at least hundreds of cars and motorcycles, mostly east of town. The storm appeared initially to be a narrow system, but it exploded when it got to Sturgis. Sirens were blown but too late for most to put their cars and motorcycles under shelter. Hail nearly 3 inches in diameter fell in the area during the storm. Wind reports ranged from 60 mph to 70 mph. Sadly, many drivers/bikers are going to discover that they don’t carry hail storm insurance… (pictures from Rogue).

30 Responses to “Fierce Hail Storm Blasts Sturgis Rally”

  1. 1 Brandon Aug 8th, 2009 at 12:14 pm

    Addicted to your Blog, I log in at least a couple times a day to check the news. Never a dull moment on your site. Great work Cyril.

  2. 2 jspfc Aug 8th, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    Global warming

  3. 3 Jeffrey Hacht Aug 8th, 2009 at 3:47 pm

    Can the local weather observers do a better job to warn bikers in advance? No insurance? OMG.

  4. 4 Fed Up Aug 8th, 2009 at 6:56 pm


    you are a shining example of whats wrong with America. Wht does everything have to be the fault of someone else. Your comment is just plain stupid. No way anyone can predict the weather and warn everyone involed with any certain area so that there would be no daamage to any property. Read what you posted real good and you will see that you are really way off base my friend.

    You probablyt voted for Obama too I bet!!!

  5. 5 chris moyes Aug 8th, 2009 at 7:20 pm

    fed up, I think you have a good point here and I will add a comment myself. As a motorist traveling anywhere, your best defense is your knowledge. It has to be taken upon yourself to pay attention to any hazards you may encounter. If you know there is spontaneous weather at a place you will be traveling primarily by motorcycle and quite exposed to the elements, then a simple briefing of the weather report to enable some expectations of your riding conditions you will expect could mean the difference between life and death out on the road.

    I definitely agree that people have to take responsibility for themselves especially at events like this.

    I left this year Thursday, the day before the hail storm, but I was there last year when it showed up. I was leaving our booth after we closed it for the day and headed on the 90 towards Spearfish to grab a bite to eat with my employees. The storm just opened up and came down. We were watching all the clueless bikers pull over at any underpass they could find. I happen to be in a rental car at the time and was thanking my lucky stars. As we made it closer and closer to Spearfish I notice in the rear view mirror a black Lamborgiini Murcielago doing about 120mph, they pass me in this storm of golf ball size hail and torrential downpour and as they did, I noticed two things, 1 it was brand new, and 2 it was a convertible.

    OUCH and OUCH!!!!! Bet they wish they would have checked the weather before taking that $400K plus car out for a nice Thursday drive.

  6. 6 Conrad Nicklus Aug 8th, 2009 at 8:10 pm

    I got caught driving Desperado Motorcycles rent car, the PT BOOZER, in this hail storm. I called my dad to tell him how bad the hail was and he insisted I hurry to the truck to get under the canopy. While hauling ass in the down pour of rain and baseball/softball sized hail my better judgement said to slow down…I didnt and no damage besides dings and dents lol…but DAMN looked like snow on the roads.

  7. 7 Jeffrey Hacht Aug 8th, 2009 at 9:18 pm

    Hey guys. Are you dumb or what? I checked online the local news in SD. The weather center saw the storm coming but acknowledge now that they didn’t think it would explode over Sturgis. Did they know where! Exactly what I said. They should have started the sirens when they knew. They say 1/2 hour before….They are at fault. Also, during Sturgis, some people were inside, working or not. How to observe a storm forming in the sky? Are you kidding? Many, if warned by sirens 1/2 h in advance could have protected their cars and bikes. Simple.

  8. 8 Fed Up Aug 9th, 2009 at 5:51 am

    So the “weather center is at fault because weather naturally happend? are you out of your mind. Like I said, some people have to blame everything on other people. Just please go back under your rock ………..

  9. 9 Jeffrey Hacht Aug 9th, 2009 at 6:04 am

    Fed Up. More you write more you say stupid things. The job of a weather center is to warn AFTER a tornado? Snow storm? A hurricane? Why do they blame themselves for bad judgment? Did you ever had your IQ tested?

  10. 10 Boss Hawg Aug 9th, 2009 at 8:52 am

    Shit Guys….We had hail in SE Georgia Thursday without warning along with a tornado.

    And just how many of you were focused on any weather channels on your bikes or from your cheap asses sleeping in tents without the creature comforts of home?

    Acts of God happen….so what the hell are you all whining about?

    Maybe you should be farmers, read the almanac, and ride your John Deere tractors down to the local coffee shop.

    Boss Hawg

  11. 11 Mike Kiwi Tomas, Kiwi Indian Motorcycles Aug 9th, 2009 at 10:51 am

    The hail storm was ugly. I was about a mile out from the Buffalo Chip when the golf ball size started. After arriving at the chip I got under cover just as the bigger stuff bit. It was nasty and at the velocity it would hit it hurt. 2 days later I’m still bruised on my legs and the back of my hand through gloves. The carnage was terrible but in true biker fashion peple kicked in and things picked up and continued on.

  12. 12 tattooeddmike Aug 9th, 2009 at 11:15 am

    To Fed Up,
    Thanks for your comment, I enjoyed reading it. Thanks again Cyril,…….. I enjoy the wide range of the biker news you bring to our world.

  13. 13 Cris Sommer Simmons Aug 9th, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    I was at the Chip talking about my book, ( just finished) when it hit… Luckily, we all made it into the new building that Woody put up for the Mike Lichter Exhibit.

    It was LOUD and lasted for 20 minutes! Several bikes had huge dents in the tanks and fenders. Our rental car ( ALWAYS buy the extra insurance, only $20 a day) had several huge cracks in the windshield and the roof and hood were pretty trashed. We saw several rental cars with NO windshields when we turned our car in yesterday. We walked away because of that extra insurance.

    Just lucky no one was badly hurt. At least, that we saw. Most cars and bikes can be fixed…
    ( but, not our car… !)

  14. 14 Fed Up Aug 9th, 2009 at 3:31 pm


    Here is the deal in plain english. Maybe you will get it this time.

    Weather is a natural thing that happens and hunans have no control over it. Warnings or not, if its going to be bad weather, well its going to be bad weather, by the way its been this way since the begining of time.

    Dude, you make no sense what so ever in your comments. Weather Center or not, warning people will never stop a storm from doing damage, and you cant blame a person or an agency for a storm, its an act of god, do you understand?

    please go away now quietly, please…….

  15. 15 Lyle Aug 9th, 2009 at 3:39 pm

    We were headed north out of Nemo and started seeing what looked like snow on the ground around Deadwood. When we got back to the campground, there were many broken windshields on cars and trucks. We had to pitch out tents on top of the ice cubes that were left over from the storm. Glad we missed it though. Overall we had a good ride, Dodged all the rain showers there and back. Just got back an hour or 2 ago.

  16. 16 Grayhawk Aug 9th, 2009 at 5:24 pm

    Ten days out the weather forecast showed Thursday and Friday as the worst days or best chance of bad weather days. Each day NOAA radio and local Sturgis radio stations broadcast winds and thunderstorms in the latter parts of the day with Thursday and Friday pointing out extreme thunderstorm and winds possible updating same as the day goes forward.

    A simple small crank weather radio to those traveling lite and an eye to the sky can keep you out or aware of most but not all. Common sense is always a help.

    Happens every year still people are oblivous to the obvious or do not understand South Dakota weather. Sirens can go off but most would just look around and go about/continue as usual.

    Campers set up their tents/tarps with the opening faced into the wind and nailed down with nail sized stakes and wonder why they get blown away. Ominous clouds form and some just keep trucking or go into the bar till its over leaving their tents, rigs, etc. to what ever happens instead of securing it the best possible, not to mention your half ass secured area tears up others shit as well when it comes loose.

    I left my awning out about 20 years ago on a clear day only to come back to it ripped off the rig and tents piled up all around as tumble weeds at the fence line, most learn some never will. It is not just straight winds or gusts as those dust bowl little twisters can tear up some stuff in a heart beat and come out of no where on a clear day. Slanted low profile mountain climber tents always hold up the best but of course its no party tent or Taj Mahi hall.

    But when the hail comes the open pasture or road is definitley not the place to be, bike, biker or vehicle and all the sirens a blowing aside a lot will still sustain damage of sort as it comes on as if someone turned on a switch. Ya take your chances. Sturgis the beauty and the beast still the wild west. More fun and stories to tell each year and hopefully always lessons learned.


  17. 17 Cade Aug 9th, 2009 at 11:13 pm

    Could have been worse people. A few yrs back there was basketball size hail down here.

  18. 18 Gina Woods Aug 9th, 2009 at 11:37 pm

    I was there with Rogue and Charlie Betchal…I was having a sandwich and decided the window I was sitting in front of was “sounding” unsafe in Charlie’s camper…just as I was getting up the window blew out..werd stuff! It was pretty scary sounding (not a lot typiclly scares me except guys dressed in black) ..bikers – hee hee. It looked like A WAR ZONE…coming out of there as we rode back to the mountains with a shattered windshield and the back window completely blown out… to think there are many Americans that live that life daily… you appreciate these few minor bumps in the road!

  19. 19 Conrad Nicklus Aug 10th, 2009 at 12:46 am

    Some of you missed out today. We had hail again!!! Nothing too major but quarter sized and let me tell you, it was crazy. I couldnt see twnty feet in front of me it was raining so hard and hailing so bad. I am staying an extra day to see what all is going on then headed back to Houston.


  20. 20 W...T...F Aug 10th, 2009 at 4:06 am

    What is this supposed to mean? Can someone explain this profound satement?

    “Can the local weather observers do a better job to warn bikers in advance? No insurance? OMG.”

  21. 21 Wiz Aug 10th, 2009 at 9:41 am

    You can’t have that many objects of ego- inflating, materialistic, custom-painted, golden calfs of machinery together in one spot and not have God go WHAM!! take that you sinners! Every year it hails at Sturgis, coincidence or what? I dunno, but I have noticed a pattern. And Gina, my Goodtime Charlie bike was under his campers awning Tuesday and Wednesday nite during the rain, small world huh? Wiz

  22. 22 Mike Greenwald Aug 10th, 2009 at 9:53 am

    You are a conspiracy theorist?

  23. 23 nicker Aug 10th, 2009 at 2:50 pm

    “…A few yrs back there was basketball size hail down here…”

    GeeZus… that could kill-ya…. Dead….!!!!

    Never mind the weather service.
    Obama needs-ta appoint a “Zar of Sturgis Hale”…. that should keep us all safe.

    Man, how did we ever get along without him…….?????


  24. 24 amy white, wicked bitch Aug 10th, 2009 at 3:53 pm

    The hail storm in sturgis was not predicted by the storm center. I was in the restaurant at my campground with the owner. You bunch of stupid asses sittin around judging those of us who actually made the ride are nothing but armchair commandos.

  25. 25 Hail ya Aug 10th, 2009 at 8:29 pm

    Ok, here’s the deal….
    Don’t depend on Government for bailouts after a storm, such as New Orleans whiners did.
    Don’t depend on government run weather agencies.
    Don’t depend on government for your health.
    Don’t depend on government.

    Be your own person, not a leech depending on others to cover your sorry a$$, and
    you’ll be just fine in this life.

  26. 26 Pony Aug 10th, 2009 at 9:21 pm

    Interesting comments here.

    My wife and I had rode out to take in the Badlands and got off on exit 131. Then the trike wouldn’t start. I wrenched for awhile and when my sister and brother-in-law and their friend wouldn’t leave us be I agreed to ride B**** back to the Chip to get the motor home and trailor.

    As we were getting close to exit 32 there were about 15-20 cars sitting along the freeway with windshields and back windows blown out. It took a minute to see the balls of hail on the ground to realize what happened. (It was sunny and hot out where we were).

    When I got to the motor home (on the chip) I found the window to the sleeping area over the cab blown out, both the front vents on top had been shattered through and it looked like someone took a hammer to one side and the hood. Everything inside was wet.

    When I got back to pick up my wife the trike started right up.

    All I can say is that someone was watching out for the 5 of us by making sure we weren’t there when it hit.

    We continued to stay our intended time and left Sunday morning as planned. We talked with several people that have lived there for 20+ years and they said they couldn’t remember bike week being that bad.

    We have been going to the Chip for several years now and will not let this stop us. We can’t control the weather but we can control doing what we love to do.

    We started trailoring a couple years ago because the crowds because my wife likes having some “comforts of home” but I would rather be riding.

    Keep the wind in your hair and the bugs in your teeth.


  27. 27 Liz Aug 11th, 2009 at 12:31 pm

    We’d been out on a ride in the Badlands all day, stopped in Rapid City at the Harley Dealership, then headed back to Katmandu Campground. My husband needed to stop at the RV store in RC, so I hopped on the back with a fellow rider and headed back without him. We saw the storm ahead of us and wicked it up to make it to our exit (134) just in time to huddle under the viaduct as the hail started. I have never in my life seen hail that big. Some of the stones were the size of baseballs! I cannot imagine being caught on the highway in that stuff. My husband was lucky enough to have missed it, thank the Gods, and said there were bikes and cars scattered all over the highway as he got closer to Sturgis. We never heard the storm siren, as it was VERY loud under there. When we got back to camp the devastation was incredible, but hell, what’s to be done but carry on and laugh it off. We were EXTREMELY luck and very thankful. Got home Sunday and had a new windshield put in the truck yesterday. Hey, it’s just stuff, and Sturgis was a blast so no complaints from our group. See ya’ll in 2010!

  28. 28 Jeffrey? Aug 11th, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    “Can the local weather observers do a better job to warn bikers in advance? No insurance? OMG.”

    Hey, Jeff…………did you read and understand what you read before you commented?

    “Sadly, many drivers/bikers are going to discover that they don’t carry hail storm insurance…”

    Its not uncommon for most people who purchase insurance to not buy extra insurance to cover “acts of god”, such as a hail storm, you Deuche! And really, how often do these kind of hail storms happen to justify even thinking about buying that kind of insurance anyway.

    What the hell is your problem……OMG*

  29. 29 Me.... Aug 11th, 2009 at 2:13 pm

    I’ll agree with FedUp…the weather peeps can only warn you as much as they can..They don’t make nor control the weather and you’re a dummy if you think it’s soley their responsibility. You want a siren to warn you a 1/2-hour in advance of rain/hail? Idiot. Just tilt your head upward and notice the sky changing. I think that is your absolute warning. If it’s not clear blue or fluffy white then start heading for shelter – or get out your cager and leave the bike at home – you shouldn’t be on it. I got caught in a gnarly hail storm in Yellowstone – sky went from sunny and warm to deep gray/black with 45 min. Lemme tell ya..we didn’t blame the weather peeps for not blurtin’ out a siren – just got the hell out of it until it passed. If it’s too much for ya stay home and go to local “runs” with the rest of the RUBS. As for the rest of us – we’ll do what they did WAY before they had the weather channel – go with it!!

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