National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

Drought Conditions Continue Across Parts of Western South Dakota

Updated: February 15, 2018

Next Issuance: March 2018


Since October 1 2017, precipitation has varied from near average across northeastern Wyoming to below average over much of the western and south central South Dakota plains. Across the Black Hills, the northern half of the Black Hills has seen below average precipitation, while the southern half has received above average precipitation. Temperatures have been near average across the area since October 1.  

Snow cover across the plains ranges from little to no snowpack across southern portions of northeast Wyoming and parts of southwest and south central South Dakota to six to twelve inches across far northeast Wyoming and northwest South Dakota. Snow water equivalent is one inch to around two inches across far northeast Wyoming and northwest South Dakota. Across the Black Hills and Bear Lodge Mountains, snowpack and snow water equivalent are near average for this time of year. March and April are typically the two snowiest months, when a third of the seasonal snowfall usually happens.

The latest U.S. Drought Monitor depicts:

  • Severe (D2) drought conditions covered Perkins, most of Meade, eastern Pennington, far northern Oglala Lakota, western Ziebach, western Haakon, and northern Jackson Counties. 
  • Moderate (D1) drought in South Dakota covered the rest of Meade, Pennington, Oglala Lakota, Jackson, Haakon, and Ziebach Counties, as well as Harding, Butte, northeastern Lawrence, Custer, Fall River, Bennett, western Todd, and western Mellette Counties. In northeastern Wyoming, Moderate (D1) drought conditions covered far northeastern 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 producers due to dry soils. 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

So far in February, temperatures have been well below average and precipitation has been above average. Average high temperatures for February range from the lower 30s in northwest South Dakota to the lower 40s across southwest South Dakota. Average lows range from the lower teens across northwest South Dakota to near 20 over southwest South Dakota. Average precipitation typically ranges from a quarter to a half inch on the plains to an inch and a half over the northern Black Hills. For January 2018 precipitation amounts, click here.

Precipitation and Temperature Outlook

Sea surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean are below average, indicating La Nina conditions. The outlook for the spring and summer is for La Nina conditions to trend toward El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) neutral conditions. For the Northern Plains, this pattern typically favors near average temperatures and precipitation through the spring.

Climate Prediction Center Temperature and Precipitation Outlooks

The outlook for March calls for near to below average temperatures and near to above average precipitation.  

The three month outlook for March, April, and May calls for near to below average temperatures and near 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 into early spring.

Seasonal Drought Outlook 

Hydrologic Summary and Outlook

According to the Bureau of Reclamation, January end of month reservoir elevations were above average at Angostura, Belle Fourche, Deerfield, Keyhole, and Pactola while Shadehill Reservoir was below average. January inflows into theses reservoirs were mainly above average, with the exceptions of inflows into Keyhole and Shadehill which were below average. The January inflow into Shadehill Reservoir was the lowest on record. 

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