Drought Conditions Worsen Across Western South Dakota and Northeastern Wyoming

Updated on Thursday, July 19, 2007
Updated as needed


Drought conditions as of July 17, extreme /D3/ drought conditions have developed in Fall River County. Severe /D2/ drought conditions continue in Custer and Shannon counties and have expanded into southern Pennington county. Elsewhere, moderate /D1/ drought conditions continue across all of Pennington county...southern Meade county...western Haakon...Jackson and Bennett counties...and into Weston county in northeastern Wyoming. Abnormally dry /D0/ conditions have expanded into the rest of western South Dakota...except for Tripp county...where no drought conditions are being reported. Abnormally dry /D0/ conditions have also spread across Weston and Crook counties and into southern Campbell county in Northeastern Wyoming.

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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The Wyoming Game and Fish Department increased the number of hunting licenses to be issued this year in an attempt to regain a balance between the number of animals on the land and the amount of forage available to sustain them after eight years of drought.
  • 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.

Climate Summary

During the first half of July temperatures were 4 to 7 degrees above normal. Precipitation during the first half of July was below normal over all of western South Dakota and northeastern Wyoming. There are some localized areas that have had strong thunderstorms drop heavy rain. 

Precipitation and Temperature Outlook

Neutral ENSO /El Nino – Southern Oscillation/ conditions continued into mid July. At this time weak La Nina conditions could develop during the next one to three months. However, Neutral ENSO conditions could continue into the fall. The Climate Prediction Center outlook through August 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 June was normal over most basins except for the Cheyenne River Basin where conditions were below normal. At the beginning of July, daily streamflow conditions were in the 20th to 80th 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% -1.2 ft
Belle Fourche 65% -4.3 ft
Deerfield 83% -0.5 ft
Keyhole 36% -0.8 ft
Pactola 58% -6.0 ft
Shadehill 63% -0.5 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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