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Drought Conditions Continue Across Parts of Western South Dakota

Updated: October 19, 2017

Next Issuance: November 2017


Drought conditions have improved slightly across south central South Dakota. However, long term precipitation deficits remain across much of the area. 

The latest U.S. Drought Monitor depicts:

  • Extreme (D3) drought conditions across far southwestern Ziebach, eastern Meade, far eastern Pennington, and northwestern Haakon Counties.
  • Severe (D2) drought conditions covered the rest of Ziebach County, as well as Perkins and parts of far northeastern Harding, far eastern Butte, central Meade, eastern Pennington, and northern Jackson Counties in South Dakota. 
  • Moderate (D1) drought in South Dakota covered the rest of Harding, Butte, Meade, Haakon, and Jackson Counties, as well as central Pennington, eastern Custer, northeastern Fall River, most of Oglala Lakota, Bennett, western Todd, and western Mellette Counties. In northeastern Wyoming, Moderate (D1) drought conditions covered far northern Campbell and northern Crook Counties.
  • Abnormally dry (D0) conditions covered the rest of Crook and northern Campbell Counties in northeastern Wyoming, as well as rest of western South Dakota. 

U.S. Drought Monitor

U.S. Drought Monitor High Plains U.S. Drought Monitor 

Summary of Impacts

Drought impacts continue to be reported by agricultural producers. Stock ponds and dugouts are dry or contain water of poor quality. Numerous pasture and hay lands have not been able to recover from the dry conditions over the summer. 

Climate Summary

Overall September precipitation ranged from above average across northeastern Wyoming, far northwestern South Dakota, and south central South Dakota to below average across southwestern South Dakota into north central South Dakota. Temperatures in September were around average. So far in October, temperatures and precipitation have been below average. For a listing of individual station precipitation amounts for January through September, click here

Precipitation and Temperature Outlook

Sea surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean are below average, but are still indicating neutral El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) conditions. The outlook for the fall and winter is for La Niña conditions to develop. For the northern plains in the fall, this typically means the temperatures will trend near average and precipitation will continue to trend below average. For winter in the northern plains, temperatures should trend below average and precipitation would be near to slightly above average, indicating a few more storms may be possible. Overall, precipitation in the winter is only around an inch for the December through February time period and is only about 7% of the annual precipitation.

Climate Prediction Center Temperature and Precipitation Outlooks

The outlook for November calls for above average temperatures and near average precipitation.  

The three-month outlook for November, December, and January calls for increased odds toward above average temperatures and near to above average precipitation.

 Temperature Outlook Precipitation Outlook

Climate Prediction Center U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook 

The U.S. Monthly Drought Outlook indicates drought conditions will persist through the winter.

Seasonal Drought Outlook 

Hydrologic Summary and Outlook

According to the Bureau of Reclamation, reservoir levels at Angostura, Deerfield, Keyhole, and Pactola were above average for this time of the year. However, end of the month reservoir elevations in August at Belle Fourche were around average and Shadehill was below average. 

According to the U.S. Geological Survey 28-day average streamflow compared to historical streamflow for the day of the year indicates normal conditions across much of the area.

Map of 28-day average streamflow compared to historical streamflow for the day of the year (United States)

Links to hydrologic data from the U.S. Geological Survey and Bureau of Reclamation can be found below.

Related Drought Links


The drought monitor is a multi-agency effort involving NOAA’s National Weather Service (NWS) and the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), State and Regional Climate Centers, and the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Information for this statement has been gathered from a number of different federal, state, and local agencies including the NWS and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Observing Sites, State Cooperative Extension Services, United States Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Reclamation (USBR), the United States Geological Survey (USGS), and many more. 

Questions or Comments

If you have any questions or comments about this drought information please contact,

Melissa Smith
Service Hydrologist


Matthew Bunkers
Science and Operations Office

National Weather Service
300 East Signal Drive
Rapid City South Dakota 57701
605-341-9271 ext. 493