Drought Conditions Improve Across Western South Dakota and into Northeastern Wyoming

Updated on Friday, September 18, 2007
Updated as needed


Drought conditions as of September 18, severe (D2) drought conditions were located across much of Fall River County, western Shannon County, the plains of Pennington and Custer counties, western Jackson and Haakon counties and southeastern Meade County. Elsewhere, moderate (D1) drought conditions covered the rest of Custer, Pennington, Meade and Jackson counties, much of Bennett and Haakon counties and the south-eastern portions of Lawrence and Butte counties in South Dakota and the eastern portion of Weston county in northeastern Wyoming. Abnormally dry /D0/ conditions exist across the rest of western South Dakota except for the far northern areas of Perkins, Harding, and Ziebach counties and in far southeastern Tripp County. In northeastern Wyoming abnormally dry (D0) conditions cover the rest of Weston county, southeastern Campbell county and much of Crook County.

Summary of Impacts

  • Drought conditions continue to improve across western South Dakota and northeastern Wyoming. Cumulative effects from eight years of drought remain.
  • 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, County Extension offices in western South Dakota are now operating a Drought Relief Hay Exchange to connect those who have feed to sell with those who need to buy it.
  • According to the South Dakota Office of Emergency Management, several counties and cities in western South Dakota have enacted burn bans due to extreme fire danger. Meade and Lawrence counties and the cities within have banned all open fires, including charcoal barbecue grills.
  • According to the National Interagency Fire Center, 868 wildland fires have burned 23,226 acres in South Dakota so far since January 2007. During the same time, 418 wildland fires have burned 49,709 acres in Wyoming.
  • According to the Angostura Irrigation District, irrigation was suspended on June 30th due to low water levels in Angostura Reservoir.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Wyoming residents have been asked by the Governor’s Task Force to reduce their water use.

Climate Summary

During the month of August, precipitation was above average across most of western South Dakota and northeastern Wyoming. On August 4th, Mission 14 South recorded 4.3 inches of rain which set a new daily record rainfall record for the station. Also Winner and Mission 14 South both set monthly rainfall records for August. Precipitation amounts ranged from 0.74 inches at Dillinger to 8.54 inches at Mission 14 South.

Temperatures during the month were slightly above average. Generally temperatures were 1 to 3 degrees above the seasonal averages.

Precipitation and Temperature Outlook

Neutral ENSO (El Nino – Southern Oscillation) conditions continued into mid August and are likely to continue into mid September. However, recent atmospheric circulation and tropical convection patterns are consistent with the evolution of La Nina conditions. The Climate Prediction Center gives better than a 50 percent chance that La Nina conditions will develop this fall. The Climate Prediction Center outlook through October calls for near average temperatures and precipitation.

Hydrologic Summary and Outlook

According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), below normal average streamflows have occurred along Rapid Creek upstream from Rapid City and along the Cheyenne River upstream from Angostura Reservoir during the last 28 days. During the same period, the Grand and Moreau Rivers were much above normal. Near normal 28 day streamflows averages were observed in the Belle Fourche, Little Missouri, Powder, Keya Paha, White and lower Cheyenne river basins.

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% 0.0 ft
Belle Fourche 39% -5.5 ft
Deerfield 81% -0.4 ft
Keyhole 32% -1.4 ft
Pactola 52% -3.0 ft
Shadehill 60% -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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