Drought Conditions Continue Across Western South Dakota

Updated on Monday, March 24, 2008


As of March 24, 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, Ziebach and the western halves of Haakon and Jackson counties. Abnormally dry (D0) conditions exist across Bennett and Lawrence counties and the eastern portions of Jackson and Haakon 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, the South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources has issued shut-off orders for junior water rights holders upstream of Angostura and Belle Fourche Reservoirs.
  • 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 February temperatures averaged 1 to 2 degrees below normal, while precipitation amounts were slightly above average. The slightly above average precipitation and slightly below normal temperatures helped to keep drought stricken areas from becoming worse. During the first half of March, precipitation averaged 30 to 50 percent below normal and temperatures have been slightly above average.

Precipitation and Temperature Outlook

The outlook through April 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 April calls for near average temperatures and near average precipitation. Average precipitation for April is 1.50 to 2.50 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 3.0 to 4.0 inches for April. However, precipitation amounts from April through June largely determine drought severity for northeast Wyoming and western South Dakota.  

Hydrologic Summary and Outlook

According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the recent water resources conditions for March indicated the monthly-average streamflow was normal; however, numerous gages are still ice affected.

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 47% +1.4 ft
Belle Fourche 55% +2.0 ft
Deerfield 75% -0.2 ft
Keyhole 34% +1.5 ft
Pactola 50% +0.4 ft
Shadehill 52% +0.1 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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