Drought Conditions Expand Across Western South Dakota and Northeastern Wyoming

Updated on Thursday, August 30, 2012
The next planned update will be in September.


Drought conditions as of August 30. Extreme /D3/ drought conditions are located across portions of northeastern Wyoming and western South Dakota. This includes Weston County and southeastern Campbell County in northeastern Wyoming as well as Fall River, Shannon, Bennett, western Todd, western Custer, eastern Pennington, southeastern Meade, Haakon, Jackson, extreme western Mellette, and extreme southern Ziebach counties in western South Dakota. Severe /D2/ drought conditions are located across the rest of northeastern Wyoming, Butte, Lawrence, central Ziebach, Tripp, and the rest of Meade, Pennington, Custer, Mellette, and Todd counties. Moderate /D1/ drought conditions include the counties of Harding, Perkins, and northern Ziebach counties.

Summary of Impacts

  • Dugouts and stock ponds are continuing to dry up across northeastern Wyoming and South Dakota. The low water levels are limiting water for cattle and other animals. Water at such low levels typically is of poor quality and is causing ranchers to sell cattle and truck water to their cattle.
  • Some smaller creeks and streams have begun to dry up and are no longer flowing.
  • Non-domestic water has been shut off in some western rivers and streams including Battle Creek and the Cheyenne River.
  • Numerous fire bans are in place due to dry fuels and extreme fire danger. Several large fires have burned areas in northeastern Wyoming and southwestern South Dakota.
  • Pasture and rangeland conditions are reported as very poor across northeastern Wyoming and most of western South Dakota.
  • Very dry conditions are hindering yield and quality of hay being produced. The outlook for hay production statewide is poor.
  • Crops are stressed and discussions about when to cut corn for silage are occurring.
  • Several counties have been declared a drought disaster area.

Climate Summary

  • So far this summer several stations have reported one of their warmest summers on record.
  • Rainfall in August has been much below average with above average temperatures.
  • Annual rainfall amounts are two to six inches below average so far this year.

Precipitation and Temperature Outlook

The outlook for September indicates a greater chance of above average temperatures with equal chances of average, above average, and below average precipitation. Average September high temperatures are in the lower to middle 70s with average low temperatures in the middle to upper 40s. Average precipitation for September is one to two inches. 

Hydrologic Summary and Outlook

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, streamflows over the past 28 days are below normal. Some smaller creeks and streams have begun to dry up.

The table below shows reservoir percent of average capacity on August 29 according to the Bureau of Reclamation (USBR).

Reservoir Percent of Normal Feet from Full
Angostura 62% 11.8 ft
Belle Fourche 44% 14.8 ft
Deerfield 98% 0.8 ft
Keyhole 83% 3.7 ft
Pactola 89% 7.8 ft
Shadehill 68% 8.6 ft

Questions or Comments

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

Melissa Smith
Drought Focal Point
National Weather Service
300 East Signal Drive
Rapid City South Dakota 57701
Telephone 605-341-9271
E-mail melissa.smith@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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