The Big Picture: Drought Conditions In South Dakota Not As Severe As In 2012

According to the the U.S. Drought Monitor, nearly half of the state is still experiencing severe conditions, and just under 5 percent is in the extreme category. While the dry, hot weather has taken its toll on crops, the state actually hasn’t seen record-setting conditions.

With some recent rains, portions of South Dakota are finally starting to see some drought relief.

National Weather Service Senior Hydrologist Mike Gillispie said, “You put enough of those days together, along with the cooler temperatures that we’ve seen the last couple of weeks, the impacts really start to drop.”

Gillispie says we started to see dry conditions throughout the state in mid-May. With above normal temperatures, they really started noticing an impact in late June.

“The combination of those two has started to show some impacts particularly on the crops,” said Gillispie.

On your left is the U.S. Drought Monitor in mid-June, and on your right is just 12 days later.

“It’s been very significantly impacted into northwestern South Dakota and farther northwest from there, compared to what we’ve seen down here in the southeast.”

But Gillispie says you only have to look back a few years to see worse conditions. From late May to August of 2012, Sioux Falls had only around two inches of rain. During the same time this year, the city had around five to six inches. The normal range is around 12 inches.

Gillispie said, “We’re running about three to maybe five inches below normal which, you know, that’s about a third of the precipitation that we would see during that time period, so it’s not anywhere near an extreme as far as record dry or anything like that.”

The National Weather Service says while it may be too late in the season to help some farmers and ranchers, average amounts of rainfall this fall could help replenish moisture in the soil.

According to the National Weather Service, the driest summer on record was in 1894 with only 3.5 inches of rain for the entire summer. The wettest was in 1993 when Sioux Falls had nearly 23 inches of rain.