South Dakota drought

It was an unusually hot June with temperatures topping 100 and a lack of rain that hurt crops and gardens and left many yards looking browner than green.

State climatologist Laura Edwards offers a perspective, comparing the weather to that of the Dust Bowl era of the 1930s.

Let that seep in – something the non-existent rain did not do on land across South Dakota – conditions are not far removed from those of the Great Depression. Without the dust storms, maybe.

Edwards also noted an extremely dry expanse in the late 1980s when there was a severe drought in South Dakota.

“I think there are a few things right now, first of all we’re really running out of precipitation and precipitation. Especially in June and the last few months,” Edwards said.

Temperatures were well above normal with much less rain than usual in eastern South Dakota, according to reports from the National Weather Service.


June precipitation: 0.78 inches, 2.98 inches below normal, the fifth driest June on record.

Average monthly temperature: 73.5, 5.9 degrees above normal, the fifth hottest June on record.


June precipitation: 1.12 inches, 2.77 inches below par.

Average monthly temperature: 73.6, 5.3 degrees above normal.


June precipitation: 0.38 inches, 3.8 inches below normal, the second worst June on record.

Average monthly temperature: 74.2, 6.3 degrees above normal, hottest June sixth on record.

Sioux Falls

June precipitation: 0.78 inch, 3.45 inch below normal.

Average monthly temperature: 75.3, 5.4 degrees above normal


June precipitation: 1.11 inches, 2.4 inches shorter than normal, the fifth driest June on record.

Average monthly temperature: 73.3, 6.1 degrees above normal, the fifth hottest June on record.

Water town

June precipitation: 0.65 inches, 3.2 inches below normal, second driest June on record.

Average monthly temperature: 72.5.9 degrees above normal, the fourth hottest June on record.

Craig Schaunaman has a cow-calf farm and grows corn, soybeans and spring wheat southwest of Aberdeen.

“The drought definitely had an impact on what we did. I guess the hay is probably the most important thing,” Schaunaman said. “We just had our spring wheat adjusted. It looks like we may have to take it for the harvest. It was dry. “

Farmers often baled alfalfa for hay to feed their livestock. It is therefore important to have green fields in the spring and summer for the rest of the year.

Almost 70% of South Dakota’s pastures are considered poor or very poor, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service of the US Department of Agriculture.

Farms and ranching operations all depend on weather conditions, Schaunaman said. Despite the drought, he said the heat had the biggest impact.

An agronomist at Hefty Seed Co. in Watertown, Preston Barragan explained how the dry conditions affected the crops.

“The most important thing was that it was difficult to get the beans and corn out evenly. It’s just dry land. Said Barragan. “Germination issues, between a lack of soil moisture from February to March, was super dry in much of our region as a whole.”

There doesn’t seem to be much heat relief in sight with highs projected into the 90s or worse over the holiday weekend, although there is a risk of thunderstorms, particularly in the northern part of State.

Edwards said farmers are badly in need of rain over the next two weeks.

“I’m hearing more and more from farmers. If you look at the next few weeks after the Fourth, it becomes a critical milestone for corn,” she said. “To get these acorns up and get them to the pollination stage. This is a very critical time. We need humidity and cooler temperatures.”

Tuesday. Governor Kristi Noem has declared a state of emergency due to the drought.

The executive order authorized the immediate start of ditch mowing in eastern South Dakota. Under normal circumstances, haymaking of roadside grasses is not permitted until after July 10.

People with plots in Aberdeen Community Gardens have had to water their plants this year due to the hot and dry conditions.

Lawns and gardens are also suffering

Scott Kram has been gardening in Aberdeen’s Community Gardens for 30 years and can’t remember such a dry summer very well.

“Every day that we have been in town, we have carried water here last month,” he said last week.

The Kram planted peas, carrots, lettuce, spinach, beets, radishes, kohlrabi, onions, corn, two types of squash, sweet potatoes, peppers, cantaloupe, musk melon, zucchini, watermelon, eggplant and cabbage.

Despite the dry conditions, Kram’s garden is moving forward and perhaps it was for his efforts in the fall when he used leaves for organic mulch.

Kram said plants with smaller seeds like kohlrabi, carrots, spinach and lettuce haven’t germinated very well this year.

Yards that don’t have sprinkler systems or vigilant guards are often yellow to brown instead of a lush green. And some are infested with weeds, which always seem to thrive in hot, dry conditions.

Aberdeen residents are never supposed to water their lawns between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Brandon is among communities in South Dakota that have imposed water restrictions.

Watertown’s superintendent of water treatment Wayne Lovelis said the water restrictions had not been imposed.

Many lawns in Aberdeen and across the state are browner than green.

Danger of fire and fireworks

Kyle Cartens is a meteorologist in the National Weather Service office in Rapid City.

“The biggest concern is the lack of precipitation.” Carstens said. “With the drought conditions, our biggest concern turns to the danger of fire, especially as July 4 approaches. People really need to be careful of fireworks. Any source of flame could start a fire. , due to drought conditions. to make it harder for firefighters. “

Officials across the state are urging caution with fireworks.

Burning bans are in place in Brown and Codington counties, although none prohibit fireworks.

“For public displays like the one taking place at Wiley Park and Brown County Speedway, they must apply for a fireworks permit, and so there are certain restrictions that go with it,” said Joel Weig, Aberdeen Fire & Chief of Rescue.

Fireworks are not permitted in state parks. In Watertown, they are allowed at Kampeska Lake and, between 6 p.m. and midnight Sunday, at the Anza soccer complex.

Fireplaces and barbecues are permitted in Brown and Codington Counties, although there are regulations that apply to fireplaces.

Severe drought

Almost all of eastern South Dakota is in severe or extreme drought, according to the USDA Drought Monitor map. The exception is a triangle from about Sisseton to Clark in Brookings, which includes Watertown. This area in moderate drought.

In North Dakota, things are even worse. Large sections of the state are in extreme or exceptional drought, with exceptional being the most critical condition, according to the Drought Monitor map.

Even with moderate drought, damage to crops and pastures can be expected and there is a high risk of fire, said Ryan Vipond of the Aberdeen NWS office.

In Aberdeen, it reached 104 on June 5. That same day it was 101 in Sioux Falls and Sisseton and 99 in Watertown. There have already been four days with highs of 100 or more in Aberdeen.

“It’s very unusual (early summer),” Edwards said.

Over the past six weeks, the heat and lack of rainfall have made drought conditions worse, she said.

This is bad news for farmers and others who are considering ruthless forecasts, at least in the short term.

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