Drought intensifying across South Dakota

The recent high temperatures, wind and lack of significant precipitation have led to an expansion of drought across South Dakota.

In this week's U.S. Drought Monitor, more than 47 percent of the state is now considered to be in moderate drought and just over 3 percent is in severe drought, according to Laura Edwards, SDSU Extension climate field specialist.

Nearly the entire state's area, almost 96 percent, is in some state of drought or dry condition. The U.S. Drought Monitor is online at http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu, and updated each Thursday.

The recent month has intensified drought development as dry, warm and windy conditions have affected nearly every corner of the state. Two notable exceptions are the Watertown area and far northern Corson County, which have experienced close to average rainfall this season. Impacts abound in the agricultural, livestock, and natural resources sectors.

Corn and soybean growth has begun to slow down, as reports of leaf curling and other water stress in row crops have come in from many areas of eastern South Dakota. Water stress can be yield-reducing at this time of year, as corn approaches the tasseling stage. Stock dams and water resources for livestock are lower than normal for this time of year. Grass and alfalfa cutting for hay has yielded less than normal amounts this year as well, at least in part due to drought.

Wildland fire activity in western South Dakota has also been above normal for this time of year. Grasses and other fuels have experienced significant growth over the last couple of years, with the last several months providing optimum conditions for curing those fuels and creating extreme fire danger in many areas.

June 2012 climate records verify the dry and warm conditions that were experienced across much of the state. Vermilion and Canton had their driest June on record. Menno, Sioux Falls and Yankton recorded their second driest June on record.

None of these cities had more than an inch of rain in June. Climate reporting locations in the northwest, northeast, and southeast were the driest. Aberdeen, Belle Fourche and several other locations reported more than 2.25 inches below average rain for the month.

Several locations tied or set new June all-time high daily temperature records, including Martin, Edgemont, Rapid City, Lead and Hill City. Nearly every climate reporting site reported above average temperature for the month, as much as eight degrees above average in the western part of the state. Most locations were two to six degrees above average for the month.

If you are experiencing impacts due to drought in your area, they can be reported at the National Drought Mitigation Center's Drought Impact Reporter Web site. Visit http://droughtreporter.unl.edu for more information.

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