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Drought Conditions Continue In Parts Of SD



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Spring is almost here, and if you are looking forward to finally having that green lawn again, you may be watering it a lot to keep it that way. Parts of South Dakota are still in an extreme to exceptional drought. And while the precipitation that has fallen through the winter has helped, the National Weather Service said a lot more is needed to kick us out of the drought.
 
“February near normal isn’t a lot of precipitation unfortunately. At least things haven’t gotten worse, that’s the good thing,” said Philip Schumacher, meteorologists, National Weather Service.

Dry, brown and frozen, that seems to be the best way to describe many parts of South Dakota. And Schumacher said although the snow that blankets parts of South Dakota may help the drought a little, over all it’s not nearly enough.

“You go back over the last six to 12 months and we are five to 10 inches below normal,” said Schumacher.

But Schumacher is quick to point out that the blizzards that dumped several inches of snow on cities in our north did help a little.

 “It’s a moderate drought right now, and that's due to more snowfall that has fallen up there over the last couple of months,” Schumacher said.

And he said that would help us to the south. As that snow melts, river levels will rise.
 
 “And that's especially true as you go north of Interstate 90 towards Brookings and Watertown where they've had a lot of snow,” said Schumacher.

But it doesn’t help the dried out soil, still too frozen to soak up any melting snow. So now Schumacher said he must look at the next few months, when the ground will be warmer, and will be able to soak up the rain the region so desperately needs.    
 
“If we can get several inches of rain between March and May that will do a lot to help alleviate the drought across the region,” Schumacher said.

Schumacher also said temperatures need to stay cool to reduce evaporation. Less evaporation means more water that will soak into the ground. Either way though, Schumacher said, we just need rain.

“If we stay dry and warmer that will lead to more evaporation, but even if we are warm, as long as we get a lot of rain, that will limit the effect and it will start moistening up our soil,” Schumacher said.

Schumacher goes on to say that although last year was dry, there was a lot more moisture stored in the ground from previous wet years. This helped balance out the lack of rainfall for many farmers. Now however, that moisture is gone.

It’s estimated that it will take several straight wet months before we can put the drought behind us.  

     
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