BROOKINGS, S.D. – The climate outlook for the spring season has increased concern for drought to continue in South Dakota. On March 17, the U.S. Drought Monitor showed two-thirds of the state in either moderate or severe drought. The climate outlook, released the same day, has odds leaning toward warmer and drier than average climate for most of the state through June 2022.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center released their official April temperature and precipitation outlooks, as well as seasonal outlooks for 3-month periods through the remainder of 2022.
Precipitation in April is leaning towards drier than average for most of the state. However, the northern South Dakota border has equal chances of drier, wetter or near average precipitation for the month. South Dakota is at the northern edge of a large area in the Central and Southern Plains with odds leaning toward drier than average throughout April.
Similarly, the months of April through June have an increased likelihood of drier than average conditions across the state. These conditions are particularly concerning as these three months comprise about 40 percent of annual precipitation, depending on location in the state.
“For farmers and ranchers, dry conditions during this time could certainly have a large impact on farm operations and decisions throughout the year,” said Laura Edwards, SDSU Extension State Climatologist.
The current drought in central and western South Dakota has been ongoing since mid-2020. Many areas are carrying soil moisture shortages from the previous dry years, and stock ponds and surface water for both human and livestock uses are lower than average for this time of year. Spring season moisture is critical for re-growth of grasses in pastures and hay fields that provide feed later in the year and over the next winter season. Therefore, South Dakota’s farmers and ranchers will need to rely on spring rainfall more this year than a typical year.
“Now is the time for farmers, ranchers and others to prepare for drought and plan ahead for what they can do in the event of worsening conditions.”
For temperatures in April, South Dakota straddles a line between an area favored for colder temperatures in the north and warmer temperatures in the south. As a result, southern South Dakota is slightly favored to have warmer than average temperatures in the month ahead, with the northern counties holding equal chances of warmer, colder or near average temperatures.
The three-month outlook for the months of April, May and June tells a very similar story, with all but the northwest region of the state leaning toward warmer than average temperatures for this period.
The NOAA outlook indicates even more concern ahead for drought in the upcoming summer season. For the months of June, July and August, there are even higher probabilities of warmer than average temperatures and dry conditions across South Dakota. Drought can increase in coverage and intensify quickly under dry and hot conditions throughout the summer season.
“Now is the time for farmers, ranchers and others to prepare for drought and plan ahead for what they can do in the event of worsening conditions,” said Edwards.
Drought resources for farmers and ranchers are available at on the SDSU Extension website.