Drought Conditions Expand Across Western South Dakota and Northeastern Wyoming

Updated on Friday, October 5, 2012
The next planned update will be in November.


Drought conditions as of October 5. Exceptional /D4/ drought conditions are located across portions of South Dakota and Wyoming. This includes Weston County in northeastern Wyoming and Fall River, Shannon, eastern Pennington, southern Meade, southwestern Haakon, Jackson, Bennett, Mellette, Todd, and Tripp Counties in South Dakota. Extreme /D3/ drought conditions cover the southern portions of Campbell and Crook Counties and the rest of Weston County in northeastern Wyoming; in South Dakota extreme /D3/ drought covers Lawrence, western Pennington, Custer, southern Ziebach, and the rest of Meade and Haakon Counties. The rest of northwestern South Dakota and northeastern Wyoming was classified as severe /D2/ drought conditions.

Summary of Impacts

  • Most dugouts and stock ponds across northeastern Wyoming and South Dakota have dried up or are an unsuitable water source for cattle and other animals.
  • Water shortages are causing ranches to sell cattle and truck water to their cattle.
  • Most small creeks and streams are dry.
  • Numerous fire bans are in place due to dry fuels and extreme fire danger. Several large fires have burned areas in northeastern Wyoming, southwestern South Dakota, and south central South Dakota. Most of these fires were caused by dry lightning thunderstorms that contain lightning with little to no rainfall.
  • Pasture and rangeland conditions are reported as very poor.
  • Very dry conditions are hindering yield and quality of hay being produced.
  • Several counties have been declared a drought disaster area by the Federal Government.

Climate Summary

Several stations reported no precipitation during the month of September; another in a long string of drier than normal months since March. Annual rainfall amounts are three to seven inches below average so far this year.

Precipitation and Temperature Outlook

The outlook through mid-October indicates average temperatures with below average precipitation. Average high temperatures during this time are in the lower to middle 60s with average low temperatures in the upper 30s. Average precipitation is around a half inch on the plains and an inch in the Black Hills.

Hydrologic Summary and Outlook

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, streamflows over the past 28 days are below normal.

The table below shows reservoir percent of average capacity on September 6 according to the Bureau of Reclamation (USBR).

Reservoir Percent of Normal Feet from Full
Angostura 58% 13.2 ft
Belle Fourche 34% 18.6 ft
Deerfield 98% 1.0 ft
Keyhole 80% 4.4 ft
Pactola 85% 10.5 ft
Shadehill 67% 9.1 ft

Fire Weather Outlook

The lack of significant precipitation has led to below normal fuel moisture across northeastern Wyoming and western South Dakota. Normally during this time of the year, fuel conditions decline fairly rapidly. Fire danger indices this fall are very slow to improve so far. In order for significant improvements in fuel conditions to take place, a sustained input of moisture would need to occur. Contact your local county officials for the latest burning restrictions.

National Wildland Fire Significant Fire Potential Outlook (.pdf file)

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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