June 9th 2001, Hail Crushes Bismarck/Mandan. Happy Anniversary!
I always write how it's terrible to be in any weather event that is considered "historical". History has plenty of examples of epic weather, so to be involved in one of these historic cycles isn't really unusual. But, what about...
Getting up close and personally caught in a traumatic weather event.
That was me. All bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, I had moved into my first place in lowland Mandan On June 1st, 2001. Eight days later we all got our asses handed to us. It was a hailstorm for the ages, and one I hope you never see the like of in all your days.
Thousands of birds must have died because I retrieved dozens from my yard alone.
Before I ask where you were on June 9th, 2001, let me explain where my journey started that day. My mother and father had come down from Minot and my aunt and uncle were in town from the Twin Cities. They had been staying in the Comfort Inn in North Bismarck and we were all loitering on the second floor saying goodbye when we noted quite a clamor outside the hotel.
Immaculate classic cars in the area for Buggies and Blues- a huge car show in Mandan.
Looking out the window we saw the Corvette competing with the Camaro, the Falcon facing off with the Fairmont, and in the end...there wasn't enough space in all of Bismarck's bank drive-throughs to save all of these classic cars. Let's have a moment of silence for the doomed.
Something wicked this way comes...but, I'm not clever enough to figure it out. Yet.
Watching from that second-story window, the incredibly black cloud wall is approaching from the west so it makes sense our guests should escape quickly. My parents and daughter flee to Minot while my uncle and aunt had east to safety in the cities. So my ex and I decided to do the only reasonable thing and we drive directly west into the darkness.
We hit the black wall coming off I-94 into Mandan on Main. The rain was a deluge that had already flooded the underpass near Bonanza. The water was so deep I had to stick on the back end of a truck that was plowing its way through the water. Miraculously we made it into Mandan and back to our house which was just a block north of the Silver Dollar. Turning on to our street we realized the hail covering the road was actually floating on a foot of recent rainfall.
We didn't get home in time.
We got caught in hailstorm-round-two as we approached the house. We tried to hide the car next to a building to find some protection from the pummelling hail. No success. We sat in the car while the windshields were shattered.
Together the neighborhood worked together to clear hail and debris from storm drains.
We all spent the next day clearing beaten birds off our property and contacting insurance adjusters. Bismarck/Mandan where were you on June 9th, 2001?
Maybe the National Weather Service can jog your memory...
On June 9, 2001, severe thunderstorms with an incredible amount of hail caused significant damage to homes and vehicles across the Bismarck and Mandan areas. Estimated damage from the hail in the two cities amounted to around $260 million.
An approaching upper level storm system provided lift to produce severe thunderstorms over much of central North Dakota that Saturday afternoon and evening. Abundant low level moisture combined with relatively cool air aloft led to the formation of a substantial amount of hail with many of these storms.
What was especially unusual is that there were 3 rounds of storms that moved through, 30 to 40 miles apart from each other. Many overpasses in the city were flooded from heavy rain and the large amount of hail.
The largest hail reported was baseball size (2.75") in Mandan, with golf ball size hail (1.75") in Bismarck. Additionally, very heavy rainfall caused flash flooding in Bismarck where a foot or more of water covered some roads. Up to 12 feet of water accumulated in the railroad underpasses in town, with large amounts of hail contributing to blocked roads.
Large hail also fell over Hettinger, Dunn, Oliver, Stark, McIntosh, and Kidder counties. Six miles southeast of Menoken on a farm, golf ball size hail lasted 30 minues, injured a large number of livestock, and smashed out vehicle windows.