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NWS: Drought worsened in fall, will continue through winter

BurbankBeach-Missouri-Combine
Courtesy of Kent Osborne
A combine harvests along the Missouri River near Elk Point, SD. As of October 2022, the National Weather Service classifies the area as experiencing either extreme or exceptional drought.

The National Weather service expects dry conditions to persist in South Dakota through the winter.

Kelly Serr is Warning Coordination Meteorologist at the NWS's Aberdeen office.

“South Dakota has been in persistent drought, and this fall it actually got a bit worse across the entire state,” Serr told SDPB’s Lori Walsh on In the Moment.

Southeastern portions of the state, including Yankton, are in severe or exceptional drought. Other parts of the state are also affected.

“Even parts of northeast South Dakota, which was sitting pretty good for most of the summer, now have really dried out,” Serr said. “We have conditions ranging anywhere from abnormally dry to severe drought that’s cropping up.”

According to Serr, the drought’s impact is unlikely to be offset by moisture this fall. Autumn precipitation is important because frozen soil does not absorb moisture as well as thawed soil.

DroughtMonitorSDOct252022.PNG
U.S. Drought Monitor
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NOAA
The U.S. Drought Monitor Outlook for Oct. 18, 2022.

“In order to overcome some of that drought that’s set up recently, we would need above normal precipitation rounding out the end of the year here to overcome that. And there’s really no strong signal that that is going to happen,” she said. “The outlook is for that drought to persist throughout the winter months.”

Drought causes reduced flow in the Missouri river, low groundwater levels and higher fire risk.

Seer expects this winter to bring cooler temperatures due to a third year of La Niña conditions.

“What [La Niña] typically means for the Northern Plains is we get the cold jet, the polar jet zipping out of northern Canada,” Serr said. “We tend to have more frequent colder outbreaks throughout the winter months.”

Serr said South Dakotans should prepare themselves winter weather.

"Make sure you check your vehicle now, check those tires, your windshield wipers, your winter survival kit, have all those necessary items," she said.

Slater Dixon is a junior at Augustana University studying Government and Data Science. He was born in Sioux Falls and is based out of SDPB's Sioux Falls studio.
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