Drought Conditions Expand Across Western South Dakota and Northeastern Wyoming

Updated on Thursday December 27, 2012


Drought conditions as of December 25. Exceptional /D4/ drought conditions are located across portions of South Dakota and Wyoming. This includes Weston County and southeastern Campbell County in northeastern Wyoming and southwestern Fall River, eastern Shannon, eastern Pennington, southern Meade, Haakon, Jackson, Bennett, Mellette, Todd, and Tripp Counties in South Dakota. Extreme /D3/ drought conditions cover the southern portions of Campbell and Crook Counties in northeastern Wyoming; in South Dakota extreme /D3/ drought covers southern Butte, Lawrence, western Pennington, Custer, northeastern Fall River, western Shannon, southern Ziebach, and the rest of Meade County. The rest of northwestern South Dakota and northeastern Wyoming was classified as severe /D2/ drought conditions.

Summary of Impacts

  • Most dugouts and stock ponds across northeastern Wyoming and South Dakota have dried up or are an unsuitable water source for cattle and other animals.
  • Pasture and rangeland conditions are reported as very poor.
  • Fire bans have been put back in place for some locations in the Black Hills and western South Dakota.

Climate Summary

For December, temperatures were mainly average to slightly above average. Precipitation ranged from around average in northeastern Wyoming, the Black Hills and extreme western South Dakota with below average precipitation across most of the South Dakota plains. Monthly precipitation values for 2012 can be found at http://www.crh.noaa.gov/unr/?n=monthly_precipitation_2012

Average high temperatures in December are typically in the middle 30s and average lows are in the middle teens. Average precipitation is around a quarter of an inch on the plains with three-quarters to one and one-quarter inch for the Black Hills and Bear Lodge Mountains.

Precipitation and Temperature Outlook

The outlook for January indicates below average temperatures with equal chances of above, below, and average precipitation. Average high temperatures for January are in the upper 20s to lower 30s with average lows in the teens. Average precipitation is around a half inch on the plains and around 1.5 inches in the Black Hills and Bear Lodge Mountains. 

Hydrologic Summary and Outlook

The table below shows reservoir percent of average capacity at the end of December according to the Bureau of Reclamation (USBR).

Reservoir Percent of Normal Feet from Full
Angostura 61% 12.4 ft
Belle Fourche 44% 14.7 ft
Deerfield 98% 0.6 ft
Keyhole 79% 4.7 ft
Pactola 86% 9.6 ft
Shadehill 66% 9.4 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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