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The most recent Drought Monitor has upgraded western South Dakota to a D2 (severe drought). This has resulted from above near to above average precipitation over the last 6 months. Particularly in the last 30 days, above average precipitation has begun slow drought improvement. Dryer conditions in eastern South Dakota have introduced D0 (moderate drought conditions) in this area.

Precipitation during the period April 14-20 brought widespread rain across South Dakota. While amounts varied greatly, widespread > 1.0" amounts occurred over the eastern of the state. Several heavier amounts were reported on April 14-15 as Aberdeen (0.99"), Sisseton (1.08"), and Kennebec (1.33") set record precipitation amounts for the day.
A dry period in March and early April has given way to above average precipitation throughout most of the state over the last 30 days. Precipitation totals have been larger than normal throughout most of the state except for a couple isolated locations and the far northwest.
This moves precipitation totals in the right direction, but still does not overcome the longer term precipitation deficits over the last 1–2 years.
Low temperatures over the western 2/3 of South Dakota fell to below freezing during the early morning hours of 20 May 2003. Particularly hard hit were areas in the southwest and northwest parts of the state where temperatures fell to the mid 20’s at several locations for several hours. Temperatures in the Black Hills were as low as 16°F at Deerfield. The Rapid City Airport set a record low temperature of 25°F.
Temperatures over the Memorial Day weekend warmed to near average highs creating a very nice weekend for campers and other enjoying outdoor activities. These near-average temperatures were very uncommon for South Dakota this May. Much of the month has been below average for temperatures for much of the state.
Cool conditions persisted in the last week across South Dakota seemingly limiting crop development. Crop progress, though, seems to continue to progress. Crop conditions as reported by the Ag Statistics service continue as expected. Most planting and progress is near the 5-year average, except for soybeans, which are 23% emerged.
Severe weather rumbled over a large part of South Dakota for the second time in a week (several hail storms occurred on June 5th). Southeastern South Dakota was the location of most of the severe weather on both days. The most common severe report was large hail as it was for the severe weather situation last week. The report of the largest hail was from Yankton with a 2” diameter report.
Contrasts in rainfall seem to be the watchword over the state. Many locations in the state have received relatively heavy rainfalls. Many of these have been isolated as thunderstorms have fired over an area while moving little. Thus, if you were in a storm you received decent rainfall, while locations nearby received little.
The severe weather of the last couple weeks that had consisted mainly of hail and wind damage took a more serious turn Tuesday night as many confirmed tornadoes occurred in eastern South Dakota. The total number or tornadoes and the amount of damage are being determined by National Weather Service damage survey teams. But estimates of several dozen tornadoes in South Dakota alone are possible.
Early week temperatures finally reached the 100 mark for the first time this year as Philip reached a high of 103 F. Most other stations west of the river also had highs well in to the 90s. This is the first stretch of very hot weather for the year.

High temperatures again pushed over the century mark in the western part of the state during the week of July 6-13. The big winner seems to have been Philip at 109 F. This is causing problems for some pasture and range land in areas that have not received sufficient precipitation to recharge soil moisture. The lack of a soil moisture bank has ended the production of cool season grasses and is limiting the growth of warm season grasses.

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The improving dryness conditions have stopped and begun slipping backward throughout the month on July. Despite below-average rains in June, conditions had not worsened. Rains have slowed greatly over most of the west-river area. Coupled with extremely hot conditions, the drought from the last several years has become apparent again. Philip, Chamberlain and Winner all recorded high temperatures above 110°F last week. 

The warm temperatures and lack of rainfall during July have returned the western 1/2 - 2/3 of South Dakota to drought or near-drought conditions. Early season rainfall maintained some semblance of moisture. But after the third week of June, little substantial rainfall has occurred over much of the state. Many associated problems have surfaced.