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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 11/25/2015 08:30)  (click your refresh button to ensure most recent forecast)

Strong southwesterly flow aloft is now covering SD as an upper level shortwave moves across the Great Basin. At the surface, a weak area of low pressure is now over the MN/SD/ND border with a cold front extending to the south and east. This has left all of SD behind the cold front leading to breezy northwesterly winds. There is some fog along and just behind the front affecting the I-29 corridor. Temperatures this morning are in the 20s and 30s under mostly cloudy skies.

The upper level low pressure system, now over the western Great Basin, will continue to slide east today. This will allow from strong divergence and positive vorticity advection over the northwestern Great Plains and central/northern Rockies. Meanwhile, a relatively strong and cold high pressure system will slide south into northern MT with strong pressure rises over all of the northern Great Plains. With the cold air in place, high temperatures today will only reach the 30s to low 40s. Breezy northwesterly winds will continue across the state today. The overall pattern will set up an overrunning type snow event with low to mid-tropospheric vertical motion riding above that layer of cold air. All of this means snow is expected across western SD later today. The strong northwesterly winds will lead to a decent upslope event over the northern Black Hills where 6-12 inches is possible with 3-6 inches over the rest of the Hills by midday tomorrow. The rest of western SD will only see 1-3 inches in that same time period. Speaking of tomorrow, high temperatures will again be chilly with highs in the mid 20s to low 30s. Northerly winds will continue. The snow will taper off from west to east throughout the day with snow amounts from a trace to 2 inches along and south of I-90.

Critical Fire Weather

No critical fire weather expected over SD the week of November 16.


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Weekly Weather Update:

Weekly Weather Update:  Monday 29 June 2015

 (Climate) No real changes in conditions.  Still dryness across parts of the south central to southeast. I think cooler conditions are keeping much stress and drying out at bay for now.  The only odd thing I have been seeing (not sure if this is showing up in greenness maps) is a higher stress area in east central SD on this product. Regarding the image, further south for the red area into southeast SD I would not question.  But its location does seem a little odd.

Also getting some more hail damage and wind damage to tress and crops.  Not sure if that is enough to be of concern for any fire issues or not… Hope we don’t turn quickly dry.  There would probably be plenty to burn in the west now.  I don’t see anything that would indicate turning dry and hot.  I could see a scenario where we are cool and dry in July if that western ridge builds in.  Climate prediction center is still showing cool and wet.  But I really don’t see a hot-dry condition building in here anyway.  (Dennis Todey)


(Weather) A large upper level ridge has built into the western CONUS over the weekend bringing record-breaking temperatures to parts of the Northern Rockies and Pacific Northwest. South Dakota is on the downstream side of the ridge in northerly flow aloft which is bringing plenty of smoke from Canadian wildfires into central and eastern SD. The northerly, subsiding flow is also keeping us under mostly clear skies statewide. There are a few cumulus clouds sprouting up over the Black Hills this afternoon and a shower or two is possible there due to the higher terrain. Otherwise skies across the state will remain mostly clear (well, clear of clouds at least). Temperatures this afternoon will peak in the upper 80s to lower 90s. Light west to northwest winds will continue into sunset.


A weak area of high pressure will move through the state tonight leading to southeasterly winds for the day tomorrow. Temperatures will be similar to today over much of the state although slightly cooler conditions are expected over northeastern SD: highs will range from the low 80s over the northeast to the low 90s over the southwest. A subtle upper level wave will then cross through the area tomorrow afternoon. This will lead to slight chance of showers and thunderstorms across the state. The best chances of precipitation will occur over the Black Hills and Coteau areas but widespread storminess is still not expected.


Some showers and thunderstorms may continue overnight into Wednesday. Some shower and thunderstorms redevelopment is likely over eastern SD during Wednesday afternoon as well. Central and western SD should stay mostly clear. Temperatures will peak from lower 90s over the southwest to the upper 70s over the northeast. Winds will shift from the east to the north throughout the day. 


Scattered showers and thunderstorms are possible again on Thursday with the best chances for rain over central and eastern portions of the state. Some heavy rain is possible with a marginal threat for severe weather. Temperatures will likely be in the 70s over most areas, with some low 80s over the southwest. Northwest winds are expected over West River areas with easterly winds over East River areas… the converging winds over central SD will be the focus for thunderstorm activity during the day.


Friday-Sunday: High temperatures will be in the upper 70s to lower 80s on Friday before climbing into the mid-80s statewide for Saturday and Sunday. Mostly clear skies are expected Friday-Sunday over western SD. Central/eastern SD will see mostly clear skies Friday while a chance of precipitation sneaks into the forecast over central and eastern portions of the state on Saturday/Sunday. Northeast winds on Friday will transition to the east for Saturday and Sunday. All in all, a pretty nice weekend is in store.


Summary: Warmer temperatures are expected this week with periodic chances of precipitation. Relatively high humidity and green fuels will preclude any fire weather headlines. (Darren Clabo)


(Fire/Fuels) A 5 acre fire was reported south of the Elk Mountain Lookout on Friday. From the looks of the photos, it was burning in/around plenty of snags leftover from numerous past fires in that area. Anthony Kennedy from the CRA reported a 237 acres fire 5 miles east of Faith, SD. This fire was started by a landowner in stubble and did have a well-formed head fire before it carried into the prairie. The fire burned through what appeared to be fully green grass (80% live/20% cured).


I think the take-away here is that there is plenty of dead grass/thatch on the surface below the green standing grass and this dead component will carry fire. Considering the recent hot temperatures, the thatch component might be sufficiently receptive to small ignition sources. It is fireworks season so I wouldn’t be surprised to see some IA this week in the grass fuel models. Do not forget that the soils over much of the state are still very wet and consider those wet conditions before heading off-road. (Darren Clabo)


*** NOTE: Next update on Monday 6 July ***




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 *