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Digging Deeper: How dry has it really been?

Published: Jul. 1, 2021 at 5:10 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Something that we seem to be talking about on a daily or weekly basis is how bad the drought situation is and how much we need the rain.

Just how bad is it? The drought monitor is updated every Thursday and it takes the data from Tuesday to Tuesday. The latest update (As of July 1) showed that 99.04% of South Dakota is under some sort of drought and of that, 69.15% of the state is in a severe drought and 12.98% is in an extreme drought.

One year ago, 56.65% of South Dakota was under some sort of drought and of that, only 18.23% of the state was in a moderate drought and no part of the state was in a severe or extreme drought.

Let’s take a look at the numbers (The data for 2021 will run through June 30).

First, a look at days that we have had no precipitation, a trace of precipitation and measurable precipitation (which would be 0.01″ or more) for Sioux Falls, Aberdeen and Pierre.

SIOUX FALLS: In 2021, 50.8% of the days have recorded no precipitation, 26% of the days a trace and 23.2% of the days with measurable precipitation. In 2020, it was 55.2% no precipitation, 21.3% a trace and 23.5% measurable. Taking 2020 and 2021 combined, it was 53.7% no precipitation, 22.9% a trace, and 23.4% measurable.

ABERDEEN: In 2021, 59.7% of the days have recorded no precipitation, 19.3% of the days a trace and 21% of the days with measurable precipitation. In 2020, it was 60.1% no precipitation, 18.3% a trace and 21.6% measurable. Taking 2020 and 2021 combined, it was 60% no precipitation, 18.6% a trace, and 21.4% measurable.

PIERRE: In 2021, 61.9% of the days have recorded no precipitation, 19.9% of the days a trace and 18.2% of the days with measurable precipitation. In 2020, it was 60.4% no precipitation, 20.8% a trace and 18.8% measurable. Taking 2020 and 2021 combined, it was 60.9% no precipitation, 20.5% a trace, and 18.6% measurable.

Since the start of 2020, precipitation has been running way below average.

SIOUX FALLS: 25.57″ of precipitation has been reported, average is 41.97″

ABERDEEN: 21.45″ of precipitation has been reported, average is 32.83″

PIERRE: 18.98″ of precipitation has been reported, average is 31.22″

Since the beginning of last year, when we have gotten rain, it has been very little. In fact, let’s take a look at daily precipitation and the number of days seeing 0.1″ or more, 0.5″ or more and 1″ or more.

SIOUX FALLS: There have been 62 days of precipitation 0.1″ or greater, 15 days of 0.5″ or greater and only 4 days of 1″ or greater.

ABERDEEN: There have been 52 days of precipitation 0.1″ or greater, 12 days of 0.5″ or greater and only 3 days of 1″ or greater.

PIERRE: There have been 52 days of precipitation 0.1″ or greater, 11 days of 0.5″ or greater and only 1 day of 1″ or greater.

Another thing to consider is the snowfall during the winter months. The water content in the snow definitely helps out as we head into the warmer months.

Overall, snowfall was below average in 2020-21 for Sioux Falls, Aberdeen and Pierre. In 2019-20, Sioux Falls was below average, while Aberdeen and Pierre were above average. In 2018-19, each city saw above average snowfall, with Pierre and Aberdeen seeing a well above average season for snowfall.

To conclude, here’s a recap of where we stand to date:

SIOUX FALLS: We are 4.90″ below average in 2021 and was 11.50″ below average in 2020. In contrast, we were 11.69″ above average in 2019.

ABERDEEN: We are 4.76″ below average in 2021 and was 6.62″ below average in 2020. In contrast, we were 8.53″ above average in 2019.

PIERRE: We are 5.22″ below average in 2021 and was 6.02″ below average in 2020. In contrast, we were 10.76″ above average in 2019.

When you look at the big picture, it’s really a culmination of last year and this year that has led us to our current drought situation.

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