Most Of Western South Dakota In Drought As July Begins

Jun 30, 2016

South Dakota's drought monitor map as of Thursday, June 30th, 2016. The dark red color in western SD indicates D-3, or severe drought.
Credit U.S. Drought Mitigation Service, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

The U-S Drought Mitigation Service has released its drought map for the week.  A large section of South Dakota is dry, and getting dryer.  A large part of West River is in a severe drought category.

A fairly long streak of dry weather is leading to deteriorating range and pasture conditions and poor crop production in western South Dakota.  National Weather Service Hydrologist Melissa Smith in Rapid City says drought issues are prevalent west of the Missouri River.

“That’s for sure,” says Smith.  “The drought conditions have expanded across southwest South Dakota over the past week.  We are now seeing areas of extreme drought, or D-3 conditions, that were introduced over the eastern foothills of the Black Hills, extending pretty much from about Spearfish to Rapid City, following around the I-90 corridor.  We also have some D-2 conditions, what we classify as being severe drought, that has encompassed much of the Black Hills and the adjacent foothills.  And our moderate drought conditions, or D-1 conditions, cover most of western South Dakota.” 

Smith says it may be bad timing for the Fourth of July weekend, but there could be some relief coming to dry sections of the state. 

“You know," Smith says, "right now we’re having this daily chance of showers and thunderstorms—and that should continue at least on through Sunday.  However, as we get into next week, it doesn’t look to be as active, and it looks like those really warm conditions, temperatures will rebound back into the 90s next week; so if we don’t get the rain here soon over the next few days, it’s gonna be hard for us to see it next week.”

The new Drought Monitor is showing some worsening conditions in East River as well.  Moderate drought covers most of Roberts County in the northeast corner of the state.