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Drought Conditions Continue Across Western South Dakota and Northeastern Wyoming

Updated: August 17, 2017

Next Issuance: End of August, 2017


Drought conditions continue across the area due to the spotty nature of recent rainfall. The dry conditions have caused an increase in fire activity and continue to impact the agricultural community. 

The latest U.S. Drought Monitor depicts:

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

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. Many impacts are related to crop failures in winter and spring wheat. Other substantial impacts include cattle deaths due to poor water quality and an increase in cattle sales due to feed shortages and poor growth in pastures and hay lands. Soil moisture continues to dry out, with the latest USDA South Dakota Crop Progress and Condition Report indicating topsoil moisture supplies rated at 66 percent very short or short and subsoil moisture supplies rated at 75 percent short or very short. Also, reports now indicate the pheasant population is beginning to suffer due to the drought conditions.

Several counties in western South Dakota have declared local emergency drought disaster resolutions and Governor Dennis Daugaard has already declared a statewide drought emergency for South Dakota. Transport restrictions have been eased, allowing the movement of oversized loads of hay and feed with proper signage and reflectors and landowners adjacent to highways may mow and bale hay along state highways.

Climate Summary

July was hot with most areas receiving below average precipitation. So far August has been cooler than average with some places receiving near normal precipitation amounts. However, seasonal and annual precipitation continues to be well below average. For a listing of individual station precipitation amounts for January through July, click here

Precipitation and Temperature Outlook

Sea surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean are slightly above average, indicating neutral El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) conditions. The outlook for the summer and fall is for a continuation of the ENSO-neutral conditions. For the northern plains, this means there are equal chances for above, below, and near-average temperatures and precipitation.

Climate Prediction Center Temperature and Precipitation Outlooks

The outlook for September calls for a greater chance for above average temperatures across northeastern Wyoming and far northwestern South Dakota with equal chances for above, below, and near-average precipitation.

 Temperature Outlook Precipitation Outlook

The three-month outlook for September, October, and November calls for increased odds toward above-average temperatures and equal chances for above, below, and near-average precipitation.

 Temperature Outlook Precipitation Outlook

Climate Prediction Center U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook 

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 at Belle Fourche and Shadehill were below average. Inflows into Angostura, Belle Fourche, Deerfield, Pactola, and Shadehill were below average in July, with Shadehill having their 5th lowest July inflow on record. The July inflow was the 4th highest on record for Keyhole, which was mainly the result of runoff from heavy rainfall on July 27.

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