National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

Drought Conditions Continue Across Parts of Western South Dakota

Updated: January 18, 2018

Next Issuance: February 2018


Climatology speaking, we are in the driest time of the year. However, precipitation and snowfall over the winter have been around average, allowing for a slight improvement in the drought monitor. Precipitation during the winter months is typically minimal, accounting for less than 10% of the annual precipitation over the plains and about 15% of the annual precipitation in the Black Hills and Bear Lodge Mountains. 

The latest U.S. Drought Monitor depicts:

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

Precipitation for 2017 was below average and ranged from 60% to 80% of average for most of the area. So far in January, temperatures have been below average and precipitation has been around average. For a listing of individual station precipitation amounts for January through December, click here

Precipitation and Temperature Outlook

Sea surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean are below average, indicating La Niña conditions. The outlook for the spring and summer is for La Niña to trend toward El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) neutral conditions. For the northern plains this pattern typically favors near average temperatures for the early spring becoming above average for the summer. For precipitation, there are equal chances for below, above, and near average precipitation.

Climate Prediction Center Temperature and Precipitation Outlooks

The outlook for the rest of January calls for near to below average temperatures and near to above average precipitation.  

The three-month outlook for February, March, and April calls for near to below 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 into early spring.

Seasonal Drought Outlook 

Hydrologic Summary and Outlook

According to the Bureau of Reclamation, December end of month reservoir elevations at Angostura, Belle Fourche, Deerfield, Keyhole, and Pactola were above average for this time of the year. However, end of the month reservoir elevation for Shadehill was below average. December inflows into theses reservoirs were mainly below average, with the exception of inflows into Angostura, Deerfield and Pactola which were above 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