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New data says small part of South Dakota out of drought

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news Mitchell, 57301
Mitchell South Dakota 120 South Lawler 57301

Recent rains have bumped about 5 percent of South Dakota out of drought conditions. While that may sound insignificant, it's the biggest portion of the state to be out of drought since the current dry spell took a drastic turn for the worse at the end of last June.

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The rest of the state remains at least abnormally dry, the lowest classification on the U.S. Drought Monitor Map, maintained by the National Drought Mitigation Center in Lincoln, Neb. A new map is released every Thursday.

Other major movements in the South Dakota portion of the map include drops in extreme drought from 21 percent to 6 percent of the state, and a drop in severe drought from 65 percent to 39 percent of the state. The classifications, in order of severity, are abnormally dry, moderate, severe, extreme and exceptional. For the sixth week in a row, none of South Dakota is in exceptional drought.

"Obviously, the biggest thing happening is precipitation falling to make up the deficit that built up over last year, largely, even back to 18 months ago," said Dennis Todey, state climatologist.

In The Daily Republic's print circulation area, extreme and severe drought conditions still plague Charles Mix, Gregory and Bon Homme counties. Jones, Tripp, Lyman, Buffalo, Brule, Jerauld, Aurora, Davison, Douglas and Hutchinson counties are all in severe to moderate drought.

Sanborn and Miner counties, and the majority of Hanson and McCook counties, have been downgraded to abnormally dry conditions.

Nearly 95 percent of the state is abnormally dry, including about 74 percent of the state in moderate drought, 39 percent of the state in severe drought and only 6 percent in extreme drought.

Farmers started planting in early May and soil moisture has improved since the Mitchell area received 2.42 inches of rain between May 16 and May 21, according to data from the National Weather Service in Sioux Falls. Total rainfall for Mitchell this month is 3.61 inches, which is 1.44 inches above normal.

Although the precipitation has helped, drier parts of the state still need more moisture to recover lacking subsoil moisture, Todey said.

"Temperatures are going to warm later this week and on into next week," he said. "The warmer temperatures will evaporate more water and as plants are growing, they need and will use more water."

Todey is mostly concerned with the long-range outlook, which is looking warmer than average for the area. He said if temperatures continue to be above average through the middle of summer, crops will become stressed.

"The outlook for the southeast is a mixed bag," Todey said. "There are no good indications whether it will be above or below average for precipitation."

Todey isn't too concerned with row crop development at this point, saying some could endure stressful conditions.

Todey is more worried about pasture and range land near the Missouri River and West River.

"There is need for additional moisture to help those lands recover from severe drought conditions from last year," he said.

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