Drought Conditions Continue Across Western South Dakota

Updated on Thursday, May 15, 2008 and Wednesday, May 28, 2008


As of May 15, severe /D2/ drought conditions are located across eastern Harding and western Perkins counties with another area of severe /D2/ drought over southern Fall River County. Elsewhere in South Dakota, moderate /D1/ drought conditions covered the rest of Fall River, Perkins and Harding counties and most of Custer and Shannon counties. Abnormally dry /D0/ conditions exist across Ziebach, Haakon, Jackson, Bennett, Pennington, Meade and Butte counties.

In northeast Wyoming, moderate /D1/ drought conditions exist over most of Weston County with abnormally dry /D0/ conditions over southern Campbell County.

On May 28, rainfall improved the overall drought conditions across the area. Drought severity  improved to moderate /D1/ drought and abnormally dry /D0/ conditions. This will be the last statement issued until drought conditions return.

Summary of Impacts 

  • Dugouts and stock ponds across Butte, Harding and Meade counties have begun to refill. Other locations outside of this area have reported little change so far.
  • 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 in the severe /D2/ drought areas 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.

Climate Summary

During the month of April, temperature and precipitation amounts were slightly below average. So far in May, temperatures have been below average. Precipitation in northwestern South Dakota and the northern Black Hills has already exceeded the average May precipitation totals with 3 to 7 inches already. Precipitation amounts in South Central South Dakota and northeastern Wyoming have been near average.

Precipitation and Temperature Outlook

The Climate Prediction Center outlook for the rest of May calls for below average temperatures and above average precipitation.  

Hydrologic Summary and Outlook 

Snow melt combined with heavy rain during the beginning of the month, caused minor flooding in the northern Black Hills, foothills and in northwestern South Dakota. Several culverts were washed out, many secondary roads were covered with water and numerous creeks and streams overflowed their banks.

According to the United States Geological Survey /USGS/, the 28-day average streamflow compared to historical streamflow is normal to above normal.

The table below shows the percent full of the reservoir conservation pool and the change in reservoir elevation over the past 30 days as calculated by the United States Bureau of Reclamation /USBR/.

Reservoir Percent of Normal Elevation Change
Angostura 50% +0.6 ft
Belle Fourche 81% +5.5 ft
Deerfield 79% +1.0 ft
Keyhole 36% +1.0 ft
Pactola 56% +4.5 ft
Shadehill 57% +2.0 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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