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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 10/30/2014 08:35)  (click your refresh button to ensure most recent forecast)

An upper level ridge is in place over the western CONUS with northwesterly flow over SD leading into the a broad trough over the eastern US. A potent upper level shortwave is now working south through the Saskatchewan/Manitoba border... this will be quite the weather maker for the Great Lakes region over Halloween but should stay east of our area. At the surface, a weak cold front is now stretched from southeastern SD northwestward (yes, northwestward) through Harding County. Breezy northwesterly winds are found along and north of the front with light and variable winds south of it. Temperatures are in the 30s and 40s this morning with mostly clear skies expect for the north where there are a few stratus clouds creeping in.

For today, the cold front will continue to push southward/southwestward through the state as high pressure dumps into the northern plains. Over western SD, this front will move from the northeast to the southwest which is quite uncharacteristic and the media have been calling it a "backdoor" front for just that reason. Regardless, temperatures will be cooler today with highs in the 40s and 50s. Winds will turn to the north over most of the state with northeast or even easterly winds expected over the western third of SD. Some higher gusts are possible. Skies will remain mostly clear to partly cloudy. A chilly night is in store today as the high settles into eastern SD.

Southeasterly winds will kick up tomorrow as the high pressure system moves off to the east. Winds will be strongest over western SD with sustained values from 20-30 mph and gusts to 40 mph over the northwest. Winds taper to 5-15 mph over eastern SD. High temperatures will again be cool with readings ranging from the upper 30s over the northeast to the lower 50s over the southwest. No precipitation is expected. 

Critical Fire Weather

No critical fire weather is expected today.

 

2014 SD Fire Potential Outlook

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2014 Fire Outlook now available (3 April)

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http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/data/jpg/current/current_sd_trd.jpg Experimental South Dakota Grassland Fire Danger Map

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Weekly Weather Update:

Weekly Weather Update:  Monday 4 August 2014

 (Climate) Several reports from fire managers and agricultural-related interests reported conditions worsening with the dry conditions across much of the state.  The worst areas continued to be in south central SD.  The US Drought Monitor map reflected the changes last week with widespread introduction of D0 (Abnormally Dry) conditions based largely on shorter term precipitation shortfalls (largely since late June).  Grassland vegetation is quickly drying.  Crops in the worst areas are turning partially brown indicating stress from limited moisture.

Drought maps were hard to define from streamflows and greenness indexes in the west.  Cooler conditions throughout much of the summer and wet conditions until late June have been able to mask the dryness until recently.

During July most of the state was less than 50% of average precipitation with totals less than an inch in the southeast, south central to northwest and around Aberdeen.  Northern Meade County did not record any precipitation during the month.  The lack of heat during the month with most of the state running 2-4 F below average limited the problems.  These temperatures will likely put the state in the top 15 coldest Julys on record. 

Isolated precipitation has started falling since the start of August helping some recovery in isolated locations (Dennis Todey)

(Weather) The upper level ridge that has been plaguing the western US is finally breaking down as a potent closed low moves from British Columbia into Alberta. Water vapor imagery shows plenty of monsoonal moisture in place over the western US beneath the now-weakening ridge. There are Flash Flood watches out for the Great Basin region and much of that moisture will move our way once the ridge breaks down. More to come on that topic below. Another weaker wave is pushing through the NW'erly flow over ND and this has spawned a few marginally severe thunderstorms over the SD/ND border. These storms will continue to drift southeast with time. Some other showers are found over central and south-central SD this morning while western SD remain mostly clear.

Chances for showers and thunderstorms will increase throughout the day as another upper wave tracks through the region and diurnal heating takes its toll. High temperatures will climb well into the 80s to near 90 over southwestern SD tapering off to near 80 over the Coteau region. Easterly winds will continue throughout the day. The notable issue today will be the spatial coverage of precipitation. Obviously, there are ongoing thunderstorms over parts of the state and these will likely continue as the preexisting midlevel instability is realized and further surface based heating (and therefore instability) grows. Farther west, storms are likely to form over the mountains of WY and over the Black Hills later this afternoon. The high resolution models are showing storms developing over the Hills from 1600-1800 with rain pushing into western SD from WY after 1900. A few storms may be marginally severe with hail on the order of quarters but no big hail is likely. A few of these storms could have some gusty winds with them as well. Minimum RHs will range from 35% over the southwest to 50% over the northeast part of the state.

Scattered precipitation will likely continue over portions of SD through the night and into tomorrow morning. Heavy rain will then redevelop over the state throughout the day tomorrow. With very high precipitable water values (the amount of moisture in the atmosphere) in place along with slow storms motions, there may be a need to raise a few local flood advisories… this will need to be monitored. High temperatures will be in the 70s and 80s with a high dependence on cloud cover while the winds will remain out of the east. Minimum RHs will be higher than today.

East to southeast winds will continue for Wednesday and Thursday as a high pressure system remains off to the northeast. Temperatures again will be in the 70s and 80s with a high dependence on cloud cover. A few showers and thunderstorms are likely each day over southwestern SD and the Black Hills while the rest of the state should be mostly clear, although a stray afternoon thunderstorm cannot be ruled out. Heavy rain and small hail are the primary threats. Minimum RHs will again be from 30-50% over western and eastern SD, respectively.

Continued chances of afternoon showers and thunderstorms will continue Friday-Sunday. High temperatures will range from the upper 70s to near 90 with Saturday likely being the warmest day. East to southeast winds are expected through Sunday at which time a weak front may push through the region. Minimum RHs will remain well above critical values statewide.

Summary: This week will bring daily chances of showers and thunderstorms with heavy rain possible tomorrow through early Wednesday morning. The 5-Day total precipitation forecast is attached below. Temperatures will be at or below seasonal norms and no critical fire weather expected. (Darren Clabo)

(Fire/Fuels) Fire activity in the zone is picking up with normal drying patterns. RAW’s stations out in the south central portion of western prairie of SD are consistently producing inputs into NFDRS the past week that are producing “High “ and “Very High” observed fire danger ratings. In Nebraska, Crawford VFD tackled again another fast moving fire six miles west of Crawford that required two SEAT’s to corral the fire last evening. I would expect that fire behavior to be replicated in any ponderosa pine/grass fuel model in the Southern Black Hills of SD for the next week once the wet weather pattern clears the area latter in the week.  And I would expect that the western Pine Ridge country of Nebraska is going to be more available for fire as well in the forested areas. The only thing holding back critical fire behavior from occurring is the lack of strong afternoon winds and still unseasonably high relative humidity during the afternoon burning period.  If that starts to turn around, with drying fuel beds that are occurring the zone, expect critical fire behavior to start to occur, such as spotting and fires whirls.  Great Plains Dispatch is always posting updates to the ERC charts every week. Take a look for yourself and see how the ERC trends this year are climbing past average and it looks to continue that trend. Remember that ‘average’ in August in this country means fires. (Jim Strain)

*** NOTE: Next update on Monday 11 August ***

 

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Contact:

Darren Clabo, SD State Fire Meteorologist: darren.clabo@sdsmt.edu

Dennis Todey, SD State Climatologist: dennis.todey@sdstate.edu

Jim Strain, SD Assistant Fire Chief: jim.strain@state.sd.us

 

 

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

darren.clabo@sdsmt.edu * (O) 605-394-1996 * (C) 605-381-9253 *