Drought Conditions Continue Across Western South Dakota

Updated on Friday, February 15, 2008


As of February 15, severe /D2/ drought conditions are located across most of Harding, Perkins and Butte counties, the northern and western portion of Meade County as well as southern Fall River County and southwestern Shannon County. Elsewhere in South Dakota, 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 and Jackson counties. Abnormally dry /D0/ conditions exist across Bennett County and the eastern portions of Jackson, Haakon and Ziebach counties.

In northeast Wyoming, moderate /D1/ drought conditions cover Weston County and abnormally dry /D0/ conditions exist across Crook County and southern and eastern sections of Campbell County. 

Summary of Impacts 

  • Drought conditions continue across western South Dakota and northeastern Wyoming. Cumulative effects from eight years of drought remain which can be seen in the reservoir levels listed near the end of this statement.
  • 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 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 in 2007.
  • According to the Casper Journal, small businesses in Wyoming are eligible for federal disaster loans from the Small Business Administration for losses in revenue due to drought. The declaration makes small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, and nurseries eligible for loans through the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program.
  • Wyoming residents have been asked by the Governor’s Task Force to reduce their water use.

Climate Summary

During the month of January temperatures were near average, while precipitation averaged 10 to 20 percent above average. The slightly above average precipitation and season temperatures helped to keep drought stricken areas from becoming worse.
During the first half of February precipitation was above average and temperatures were below average.

Snow cover so far this winter season has been around average for most areas across the plains of northeastern Wyoming and western South Dakota. The northern Black Hills and Bear Lodge Mountains have seen slightly above average amounts, while the southern Black Hills have recorded amounts at or slightly below average. Snowfall reports from the Cheyenne, Belle Fourche, Grand and Moreau river basins have so far been below average.

Precipitation and Temperature Outlook

The forecast through March 2008 continues to indicate persisting drought across western South Dakota and northeastern Wyoming.
Moderate to strong La Nina conditions are expected to continue through the spring of 2008. The Climate Prediction Center outlook through March calls for above average temperatures and near average precipitation. However, drought conditions are likely to persist since average precipitation for March is 0.75 to 1.25 inches on the plains of western South Dakota, the plains of northeast Wyoming and over the southern and central Black Hills. In the northern Black Hills and Bear Lodge mountains, precipitation averages 1.5 to 2.5 inches for March.

Hydrologic Summary and Outlook

According to the United States Geological Survey /USGS/, the recent water resources conditions for February indicated the monthly-average streamflow was normal.

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 44% +0.5 ft
Belle Fourche 47% +1.8 ft
Deerfield 76% -0.2 ft
Keyhole 31% +0.1 ft
Pactola 50% 0.0 ft
Shadehill 52% -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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