Drought Conditions Continue to Expand Across Western South Dakota and into Northeastern Wyoming

Updated on Thursday, August 9, 2007
Updated as needed


Drought conditions as of August 9, extreme (D3) drought conditions continue over Fall River County and have expanded into western Shannon and southern Custer counties. Severe (D2) drought conditions were located across the rest of southwestern South Dakota including northern Custer, Pennington, southern Meade, eastern Shannon, Bennett, Jackson, Mellette and Haakon counties. Elsewhere, moderate (D1) drought conditions covered Lawrence, northern Meade, eastern Butte, and Todd counties in South Dakota and Weston County in northeastern Wyoming. Abnormally dry (D0) conditions exist elsewhere, including Crook County and portions of eastern and southern Campbell County in northeastern Wyoming and in the western South Dakota counties of Harding, northern Perkins, western Butte, Ziebach and Tripp.

Summary of Impacts

  • Drought conditions continue to worsen across western South Dakota. Drought conditions are beginning to re-develop across northeastern Wyoming. Cumulative effects from eight years of drought remain.
  • Stock ponds and dugouts continue to be very low which is limiting water for cattle and other animals. Water at such low levels typically is of poor quality and not usable.
  • According to the Rapid City Journal, County Extension offices in western South Dakota are now operating a Drought Relief Hay Exchange to connect those who have feed to sell with those who need to buy it.
  • According to the Rapid City Journal and Black Hills Pioneer, several counties and cities in the Black Hills have enacted burn bans due to extreme fire danger. Meade and Lawrence counties and the cities within have banned all open fires, including charcoal barbecue grills.
  • According to the National Interagency Fire Center, 696 wildland fires have burned 20,593 acres in South Dakota so far since January 2007. During the same time 272 wildland fires have burned 22,702 acres in Wyoming.
  • According to the Angostura Irrigation District, irrigation was suspended on June 30th due to low water levels in Angostura Reservoir. The reservoir is at it's lowest level in 55 years of records.
  • Roughly 31 junior water right permit holders along the Cheyenne River from Angostura to the Belle Fourche River confluence received shutoff orders from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). River levels in that area are very low, which threatens the domestic supply and supply for watering livestock. A DENR secretary stated that years of drought had lowered flows on the river and forced the DENR to issue shutoff orders to protect the water supply for domestic use and the most senior right permit holders.
  • According to the Rapid City Journal, mandatory water conservation restrictions are in effect in Rapid City through September. Lawns may not be watered between 9 AM and 6 PM.
  • Wyoming residents have been asked by the Governor’s Task Force to reduce their water use. The state received below normal amounts of snowfall that melted early. Spring storms led to plenty of lush grass that could dry out and provide fuel for wildfires during the summer, with areas west of the Continental Divide predicted to have a busy fire season. The spokesman for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department noted that the Seminoe, Pathfinder and Grayrocks reservoirs are critically low on water.

Climate Summary

During the month of July, temperatures were 4 to 7 degrees above average. Several locations set daily record high temperatures and record high minimum temperatures. Data from several locations were comparable to temperatures during July 2006 and July 1936.

Precipitation during the month was below average across most of western South Dakota and northeastern Wyoming. A few locations did receive heavy rainfall from some stronger thunderstorms. However, the areas of heavy rain were localized.

Precipitation and Temperature Outlook

Neutral ENSO /El Nino – Southern Oscillation/ conditions continued into early August. At this time weak La Nina conditions could develop during the next one to three months. However, neutral ENSO conditions could also continue into the fall. The Climate Prediction Center outlook through September calls for above average temperatures and below normal precipitation.

Hydrologic Summary and Outlook

According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the monthly-average streamflow for July was near average over most basins except for the Cheyenne River Basin where conditions were below average. At the beginning of August, daily streamflow conditions were in the 10th to 75th percentile.  

Reservoirs around the region remain below average for this time of year. The table below shows reservoir percent of average capacity and change in elevation over the past 30 days as calculated by the United States Bureau of Reclamation (USBR).

Reservoir Percent of Normal Elevation Change
Angostura 40% -0.2 ft
Belle Fourche 51% -6.5 ft
Deerfield 82% -0.6 ft
Keyhole 34% -1.3 ft
Pactola 55% -5.5 ft
Shadehill 61% -0.9 ft

Questions or Comments

If you have any questions or comments about this drought information please contact,

Melissa Smith or Lee Czepyha
Drought Focal Points
National Weather Service
300 East Signal Drive
Rapid City South Dakota 57701
Telephone 605-341-9271
E-mail melissa.smith@noaa.gov or lee.czepyha@noaa.gov


The drought monitor is a multi-agency effort involving NOAA's National Weather Service (NWS) and National Climatic Data Center, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), state and regional center climatologists, and the National Drought Mitigation Center. Information for this statement has been gathered from NWS and Federal Aviation Administration observation sites, state cooperative extension services, USDA, USBR, and USGS.

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