It was a dry and cold January week in South Dakota. There was some snow with high winds in the northeast last week, but only a couple of other isolated areas had any measurable precipitation. Temperatures were much below average, with dangerously low wind chills. In the north, temperatures were 12 to 16 degrees below average for the week. The southern tier counties were about four to eight degrees below average for the week.
There is currently only snow cover in the Black Hills and across the northern one-third of South Dakota. Most of the state is snow-free as of this writing. Snowfall this season has been below normal in all but the far northeast, from Sisseton to the North Dakota and Minnesota borders.
Soils have frozen deeper with the very cold temperatures in the last couple of weeks and minimal snow cover. Frost depth across the state is 12 to 35 inches deep, according to the SD Mesonet.
~Laura Edwards, South Dakota State University Extension
Forecast Highlights: A stationary front is stretched northwest to southeast across the middle of state today. This will lead to a drastic range in high temperatures: mid-teens over eastern South Dakota to the mid-50s over and around the Black Hills and southwestern South Dakota. Highs will then climb into the 30s to near 40 over western South Dakota tomorrow with highs remaining in the 50s in the west and southwest. Expect similar highs across the state on both Wednesday and Thursday. Friday will bring a weak cold front to the state, leading to highs in the 20s in the east and the 40s in the west from Friday through the weekend. Look for light westerly winds today through Thursday across the state. A quick-moving cold front on Friday and Sunday could bring some stronger northwest winds to the state along with the chance of a few scattered snow showers.
Potential for Critical Conditions: Critical conditions are not expected this week.
~Darren Clabo, South Dakota Mines
Most of South Dakota is free of snow cover. The higher elevations of the Black Hills and the northern one-third of South Dakota are still showing snow cover based on satellite imagery. With most of the snow cover gone and warmer temperatures this week, there is potential for a smoldering pile to escape. Winds appear light during the warmer temperatures, so any escape should be contained with initial attack resources. Also, with the cold evenings and short duration of solar radiation, the fuel temperatures will provide some damper to fire behavior. North slopes and shaded areas should be holding some moisture, or temperatures should be cold enough that fire spread will be very limited. I don’t anticipate any issues this week.
~Jay Wickham, South Dakota Wildland Fire
Next Update: Monday, January 17, 2022