Drought Conditions Expand Across Western South Dakota and Northeastern Wyoming

Updated on Thursday, July 26, 2012


Drought conditions as of July 26. Extreme /D3/ drought conditions are located across portions of northeastern Wyoming and western South Dakota. This includes Weston County and southeastern Crook County in northeastern Wyoming as well as Fall River, southern Shannon, Bennett, Todd, southern Tripp, western Custer, extreme western Pennington, Lawrence, most of Butte, southeastern Meade and eastern Pennington counties in western South Dakota. Severe /D2/ drought conditions are located across the rest of northeastern Wyoming, southern Ziebach, Haakon, Mellette and the rest of Butte, Meade, Pennington, Custer Shannon and Trip 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.

Climate Summary

  • So far for July precipitation amounts have varied from below average to above average. A few locations around Rapid City and in northwestern South Dakota had above average amounts due to heavy rain from thunderstorms. However several areas from Newell to Interior have missed out on rainfall and are extremely dry.
  • Rainfall in June was 20 to 50 percent of average for most locations. Temperatures were 5 to 7 degrees above average for the month.
  • Annual rainfall amounts are one to four inches below average this year. Temperatures during the spring and summer have been much above average.
  • The combination of record high temperatures, high rates of evapotranspiration, and lack of precipitation has led to rapidly worsening drought conditions across the area.

Precipitation and Temperature Outlook

The forecast for the rest of July is calling for above average temperatures and below average precipitation. Average highs are in the middle 80s with average lows in the lower 70s. Average precipitation for July is usually between two to three inches.

The outlook for August indicates a greater chance of above average temperatures with equal chances of average, above average, and below average precipitation. Average August high temperatures are in the lower to middle 80s with average low temperatures in the middle to upper 50s. Average precipitation for August is between 1.25 and 2.25 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. However, most large reservoirs are full after four years of above average precipitation.

The table below shows reservoir percent of average capacity on July 26 according to the Bureau of Reclamation (USBR).

Reservoir Percent of Normal Feet from Full
Angostura 74% 7.7 ft
Belle Fourche 61% 9.5 ft
Deerfield 98% 0.7 ft
Keyhole 89% 2.4 ft
Pactola 94% 4.3 ft
Shadehill 73% 7.4 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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