A Terrifying, Deadly Storm Struck South Dakota In 1972… And No One Saw It Coming

On June 8th, 1972, life went on as normal in Rapid City. It had been a pretty rainy season prior to that but nothing out of the ordinary. No one was suspecting of anything to happen in the next few days. It was just a nice early summer day.

On June 9th, 1972, it rained for six hours straight. Thunderstorms were constant and seemed to have no intentions of ever letting up. The clouds wouldn’t break, the clear sky was trapped behind the downpour of rain. Over 15 inches of rain were let loose onto Rapid City, and more specifically, Rapid Creek. The waters rose faster than you could imagine, and with the ground saturated with moisture from earlier rain in the season, it was turning into a recipe for disaster. And a disaster certainly did happen.

In the earliest hours of the morning on June 10th, the Canyon Lake Dam had failed because it had gotten so clogged up with debris from the flash floods that resulted from the storms. Here is what happened next…

The flood certainly brought hardships to the area and will never be forgotten, even more than 40 years after the fact. No one knew that the insane amount of rain would happen, or what kind of destruction it would cause. Many houses and business that were within the flood plain were either moved or raised to be better prepared from then on, and the Canyon Lake Dam was redesigned in order to help prevent any future clogging issues.