SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – The start of the 83rd Sturgis Motorcycle Rally will be a wet one.
Meteorologists and government officials have been warning bikers and travelers about heavy rainfall in Sturgis and the Black Hills for the next five days. On Wednesday, the National Weather Service issued a flood watch for many western South Dakota counties with total rainfall numbers up to 5 inches through Saturday.
The city of Sturgis and Meade County have posted announcements on social media about the weather and encouraging visitors to sign up for the code red system, said Deb Holland, the communication and outreach director for the city of Sturgis. The code red system contacts registered users with updates and alerts about weather and other concerns.
The city and county are also taking other actions to inform visitors about the weather forecast.
KELOLAND Meteorologist Meghan Chada said Friday and Saturday will be the worst two days for rain. She said storms and rain will start to develop in the Black Hills Thursday afternoon around 4-5 p.m. MT.
“It looks like they’re not going to have a good weekend to start the rally,” Chada said. “There’s a lot of rain in a short amount of time.”
The Meade County Sheriff’s Office shared a photo of Sturgis Main Street on Thursday morning and said “Hope everyone is bringing the rain gear with them.”
Darren Clabo, the South Dakota state fire meteorologist, posted on social media about the 7-day precipitation forecast showing many areas expecting more than 3 inches of rain.
“Sorry, Sturgis Rally. But at least the fire danger will decrease,” Clabo said on social media.
Chada said the good news is temperatures will also be below normal so it won’t be too hot or too windy.
Three people making their way to western South Dakota with motorcycles told KELOLAND News they are not too concerned about the wet forecast.
Elk Richardson, traveling through Sioux Falls from North Carolina, will be doing a two-day ride from the Standing Rock Reservation to Wounded Knee. He said he’s not too worried about the rain and noted they drove through a rain show on Thursday.
“We stopped and put on our rain gear and rode through it,” Richardson said. “
David and Dwnda Harrison, traveling through Sioux Falls from Florida, both said they are not concerned about the rainy forecast.
“Let it rain,” David said. “If we get wet, we get wet. That’s what rain gear is for.”
The city of Sturgis is expecting heavy rains, Holland said.
“This is a real possibility,” Holland said of heavy rain and possible flooding in low-lowing areas. The city wants to let visitors know of flood watches and weather updates, particularly those in campgrounds, she said.
In addition to the social media posts, Holland said the city will be mass emailing registered rally vendors about the weather. Although no high winds are predicted as of late Thursday afternoon, the heavy rain will impact vendors, she said.
“I will get a hold of campgrounds within the city limits,” Holland said.
Meade County will notify campgrounds within the county, she said.
Holland said she has been, and will be, in constant contact with the National Weather Service.
The city is also working with the Meade County Sheriff’s Office.
In 2019 around July 4, the Lazelle Street area in the Bear Creek area, not far from Boulder Creek flooded, Holland said.
“That’s a main thoroughfare for many people,” Holland said. “I hope that’s not an issue (this weekend).”
The community center in Sturgis is the storm shelter, Holland said. Harley-Davidson uses the parking lot and part of the facility but a shelter can be set up in the gym.
Holland encouraged visitors to follow the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally official Facebook page for weather related announcements.
“It goes back to personal responsibility. We’ve laid it out for them,” Holland said of visitors tracking the weather and any weather related issues.