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Darren R. Clabo

State Fire Meteorologist, South Dakota

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Current Conditions at SDSM&T


Daily Weather Discussion (updated 04/24/2015 15:23)  (click your refresh button to ensure most recent forecast)

The axis of the upper level ridge has now passed through the state and as such, southwesterly winds aloft are present over the region. This active flow has led, and will continue to lead, to good chances of precipitation across the state through the next 3-5 days. Our current surface analysis shows a low pressure system over east-central SD with a warm front extending off to its northeast and cold front extending off to its west. In turn, winds are a bit crazy this AM with southeasterly winds over southeastern SD, easterly winds over northeastern SD and west to northwesterly winds over western SD. Temperatures this morning are generally in the 40s and 50s. There is scattered cloudiness across the state with notable altocumulus alluding to the chances from precipitation and a few thunderstorms this afternoon.

Temperatures today will be similar to those yesterday with highs in the low 60s over the far east, the upper 60s to low 70s over a large swath of central SD, with mid 60s over the west. Wind direction will be dependent on the location of the low which will slide slowly to the south throughout the day. However, no strong winds are expected. The big news today will be the chances of precipitation through the afternoon. Showers and thunderstorms will develop over the Black Hills today and migrate westward through the late afternoon hours... this will be a similar situation to what happened yesterday. Most of the activity will be confined to and south of the I-90 corridor.

The showers and thunderstorms will taper off throughout the evening tonight bringing partly cloudy skies to the state tomorrow morning. As the day warms up, showers and thunderstorms are expected to once again form over western SD/Black Hills. High temperatures will range from the mid 50s east to the low 60s over central and western SD. Winds will be light and out of the east. 

Critical Fire Weather

No critical fire weather is expected.


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Weekly Weather Update:

Weekly Weather Update:  Monday 20 April 2015

 (Climate) Statewide precipitation in South Dakota was fairly well forecast and occurred as expected.  A few locations along the Nebraska border and around the Black Hills received around an inch of precipitation.  Much of the rest of the state received less, though nearly the whole state received something.  These amounts did little to alleviate the largest dryness concerns, though they did help with green-up a little more.   

D1-Moderate drought conditions expanded across more of SD with the release of last week’s USDM.  Nearly 66% of the state is covered by D1 conditions with the rest in D0-Abnormally Dry. Planting of corn did start last week.  Interestingly, some producers did avoid potential fire conditions by waiting until evening to plant when winds died and humidities came up.  Outlooks show limited chances for improvement in the near-term with only minor chances for precipitation.  The current 8-14 day outlooks hold a little hope getting into the latter part of the month and early May for at least a little improvement. (Dennis Todey)


(Weather) A strong upper level trough is now working its way through the Upper Midwest. This trough brought a cool front to the region last night and has resulted in strong northwesterly winds across the state today. These intense winds are leading to strong vertical mixing which in turn has led to exceptionally low dew points over much of the state. Some stations are reporting single digit or even negative dew point temperatures—practically unheard of for April. The combination of these conditions has resulted in Red Flag Warnings for central and eastern parts of the state. At least temperatures are relatively cool statewide as daytime highs are only in the 50s.


Breezy northwesterly winds, strongest over the east, will continue through the day tomorrow as a high pressure system filters into South Dakota. High temperatures will range from the 40s over the northeast to the low 60s over the southwest; pretty close to average values for this time of the year. Minimum RHs will again be low with values from 20-30% statewide. Thankfully they will remain above critical thresholds but some enhanced fire danger can still be expected over the east. Skies will be mostly clear to partly cloudy.


The high pressure will stall out of the area on Tuesday night and into Wednesday. This will keep winds light throughout the state with northwesterly winds lingering over far eastern SD and southeasterly winds developing over West River areas. Temperatures will be similar to Tuesday, albeit a few degrees warmer: highs will range from the 50s east to the low 60s west.  Minimum RHs will again range from 20-30% over most of the state although southeastern SD may see some values in the 15-20% range. The winds will likely be too low for fire weather headlines but some higher fire danger is likely where the RH is lowest. Skies again will be mostly clear.


Thursday and Friday will see southeasterly winds as a trough of low pressure at the surface forms in the lee of the Rockies to our west. Highs will be in the 50s statewide on both days with some chances of rain developing over the southwestern quarter of the state on Friday. Minimum RHs will be above critical thresholds. An area of low pressure then moves over the state this weekend bringing an increased chance of precipitation to the entire state. I don’t expect a big soaking at this time but at least the humidity will be on the way up. Temperatures will again be in the 50s on Saturday with highs a few degrees warmer on Sunday.


Summary: Weather conditions today and tomorrow will be favorable for fire growth over central and eastern SD. Minimum RHs will likely stay above critical thresholds the rest of the week with some chances of precipitation Friday through the weekend.  (Darren Clabo)


(Fire/Fuels) Fires continued to be a concern across the state last week with the activity nearly everywhere. The largest fire (at least from what I’ve seen) was the Denke Fire north of Wall that burned 700 acres last Thursday. There is plenty of cured fuel out there and green up has not yet gotten to the point where it inhibits fire growth. The recent precipitation across the state should expedite the green up over the next few days. The spring “shoulder” fire season might finally be starting to wind down.  (Darren Clabo)


*** NOTE: Next update on Monday 27 April ***




Darren Clabo, SD State Fire Meteorologist:

Dennis Todey, SD State Climatologist:

Jim Strain, SD Assistant Fire Chief:



Darren R. Clabo * State Fire Meteorologist/Instructor * Institute of Atmospheric Sciences

South Dakota School of Mines & Technology * 501 East Saint Joseph Street * Rapid City, SD 57701 * (O) 605-394-1996 * (C) 605-381-9253 *