Drought Conditions Expand Across Western South Dakota and Northeastern Wyoming

Updated on Thursday, December 13, 2007


Drought conditions as of December 13, severe /D2/ drought conditions have worsened due to recent shortfalls in precipitation across most of Perkins, Harding and Butte counties, as well as, northwest portions of Meade County and northern portions of Lawrence County. Severe /D2/ drought conditions have intensified across southern Fall River County and southwest Shannon County. Elsewhere, moderate /D1/ drought conditions covered the rest of Shannon and Fall River counties, as well as, Pennington, Custer and the western halves of Ziebach, Haakon, Bennett and Mellette counties. Moderate /D1/ drought conditions also cover Weston county and southeast portions of Campbell and Crook counties in northeast Wyoming. Abnormally dry /D0/ conditions exist across the rest of Ziebach, Haakon, Bennett and Mellette counties, as well as, Crook County and the eastern half of Campbell County in northeast Wyoming. 

Summary of Impacts 

  • Drought conditions continue across western South Dakota and 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. This effort was introduced because of a drought-induced poor growing season across the southwest part of the state.
  • According to the National Interagency Fire Center, 1,440 wildland fires have burned 76,423 acres in South Dakota so far since January 2007. During the same time, 582 wildland fires have burned 77,737 acres in Wyoming.
  • Wyoming residents have been asked by the Governor’s Task Force to reduce their water use.

Climate Summary

During the month of November temperatures were 3 to 5 degrees above average. During the first 10 days of December temperatures averaged 4 to 6 degrees below normal. Precipitation during the month of November was well below average, most locations reported less than 30 percent of their average precipitation. Some locations reported no precipitation at all during the month of November. So far, during the first 10 days of December, precipitation has been above normal with many areas receiving 0.25 to 0.75 inches of precipitation.

Precipitation and Temperature Outlook

During the month of November La Nina conditions reached moderate strength. Moderate to strong La Nina conditions are likely to continue through February of 2008. The Climate Prediction Center outlook for mid December through January calls for near average temperatures and above average precipitation. However, drought conditions are likely to persist since average precipitation for December through January is 0.50 to 0.75 inches on the plains of western South Dakota, with 0.75 to 1.25 inches on the plains of northeast Wyoming and over the southern and central Black Hills. In the northern Black Hills and Bear Lodge mountains, precipitation averages 2.5 to 3.0 inches for December through January. 

Hydrologic Summary and Outlook

According to the United States Geological Survey /USGS/, the monthly-average streamflow for November was around average over all but northwest South Dakota, with values around the 75th percentile. In northwest South Dakota monthly-average streamflow was below normal, with values around the 25th 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 41% +0.3 ft
Belle Fourche 33% +2.0 ft
Deerfield 77% -0.4 ft
Keyhole 31% 0.0 ft
Pactola 50% -0.3 ft
Shadehill 54% -0.4 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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