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South Dakota precipitation hit extremes in December

Agriculture.com Staff 01/10/2007 @ 12:38pm

Parts of southeastern South Dakota had one of the wettest Decembers on record while some locations in the northwest part of the state saw one of the driest.

South Dakota State University Extension State Climatologist Dennis Todey says that's what weather stations around the state are showing for December 2006.

"We had a tale of two extremes here," Todey says. "The southeast part of the state saw a very wet month, and strangely enough, most of it came as liquid. So we had 10 stations that had precipitation amounts in the top five record wettest Decembers. The big winner was Yankton, which had 3.4 inches of precipitation in December, which beat their record by a whopping 1.41 inches."

Other stations that had Decembers that were in their top five wettest on record based on preliminary data were:

  • Brookings: 1.52 inches (third wettest)
  • SDSU Southeast Research Farm: 2.07 inches (third)
  • Madison: 2.07 inches (second)
  • Menno: 2.48 inches (second)
  • Pickstown: 2.75 inches (first)
  • Sioux Falls: 1.95 inches (fifth)
  • Tyndall: 2.87 inches (first)
  • Vermillion: 2.12 inches (second)
  • Wessington Springs: 1.39 inches (fourth)

"If you look at the northwest and west-central part of the state, we had quite the opposite effect, where we had several stations that had no precipitation. Bison, for example, had no recorded precipitation, which tied the record low," Todey says. "Dupree had one-hundredth of an inch, which was their fifth-driest on record. Spearfish had five-hundredths of an inch in December; it was their third driest on record for December."

Todey says weather stations with soil moisture sensors suggest that at least some of the recent precipitation in the southeast will be available to farmers this spring.

"In the southeast the obvious question is becoming, How much of this got into the ground?" he says. "It looks like some of this did get into the ground because the soil was either not frozen or not frozen solid, so there was some soil moisture recharge in the southeast part of the state."

Todey says calendar year 2006 turned out to be one of the 10 driest years on record for many locations in South Dakota, and was the second-driest year on record for Timber Lake, which recorded only 9.47 inches of precipitation for the year. That was second only to 2002.

The outlook for the northwest and west central parts of the state suggests that conditions will stay on the dry side, Todey says, though February and March typically are months with snowfall in Black Hills. Meanwhile, the winter is expected to continue to be mild.

"Because of the continuing El Nino, we would expect warmer-than-average conditions to continue at least for the next couple months statewide," he says. "We will probably have some cold stretches, but they probably will be short-lived, and probably not as bad as we would expect to have in the winter in South Dakota. Warmer-than-average seems to be the watchword for this winter."

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