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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 02/12/2016 08:44)  (click your refresh button to ensure most recent forecast)

This morning's upper air analysis shows weak ridging over the northern Rockies with a deep closed low pressure system over the southern Hudson Bay. There is a trough extending to the south from this low pressure system and this setup is leading to strong northwesterly flow aloft over South Dakota. At the surface, high pressure is spilling into the region while a stationary front is parked off to our west. Winds are out of the north/northeast with temperatures in the teens and 20s. There is some fog being reported over western SD with mostly cloudy west and partly cloudy skies over the northeast.

Clouds will remain over the area as plenty of midlevel moisture advects into the region. Speaking of advection, temperatures will remain mainly below the freezing mark across SD due to cold air advecting in from the cold high pressure system off to our north. Highs will range from the low teens over eastern SD to the low 30s over the far west. Winds today will be out of the north over eastern SD with easterly winds over central and western SD. This will create some limited upslope flow aiding continued fog and light precipitation over western parts of the state.

The aforementioned front will retreat back eastward into western SD tomorrow. Winds will be out of the southeast over eastern and central parts of the state with a switch to the west over far western SD after the front nudges into that area. Temperatures will range from the low teens over eastern SD to the 40s over western SD on the west side of the front. Mostly cloudy skies are expected.

Critical Fire Weather

No critical fire weather expected over SD the week of February 8.


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Weekly Weather Update:

Weekly Weather Update:  Monday 4 January 2016


(Climate) Not too much to say besides the limited snowpack across SD to start the New Year (see figure below). (Dennis Todey)


(Weather) An upper level ridge is currently over the central part of the US with light winds aloft above South Dakota. At the surface, high pressure is off to our southeast resulting in southeasterly winds across the state. Temperatures will vary considerably across the state today with a strong inversion in place: highs over/around the Black Hills will be in the 50s, highs over West River prairies are expected to be in the 30s and 40s with East River highs expected in the 20s. Those southeasterly winds will remain in place throughout the day under mostly clear skies. Minimum RHs are expected to be below 20% over the Black Hills this afternoon which will allow for the fire danger to be elevated locally in those areas with little snow cover.


A weak area of low pressure will nudge into the state tomorrow. This will result in light northwesterly winds over northwestern SD, southwesterly winds over the central part of the state and southerly winds over the eastern third of SD. Temperatures will be somewhat similar to today with highs ranging from the 40s west to the upper 20s east with the potential of highs near 50 over the Black Hills. Skies will be partly cloudy statewide.


Temperatures will cool dramatically over much of SD on Wednesday as a cold front moves through the state. Highs will only be in the 20s and 30s, coolest over north-central parts of SD. Light northeasterly winds are expected over most of SD with some southerly flow over the far southeast. Some fog is possible over the western half of the state on Wednesday morning with the light upslope flow. There is also a slight chance for a snow shower or two over eastern SD but no accumulation is expected. Cloudy skies are expected there with partly cloudy skies expected over the western half of the state.


Similar conditions are expected on Thursday with highs ranging from the 20s north to the 30s south. Some freezing fog/freezing drizzle is possible across the state during the first half of the day and we’ll have to keep our eye on this to see how it affects the travel conditions. Light east to northeast winds are expected. A few light snow showers may fall over the southern half of the state but accumulating snow is highly unlikely.


A much stronger cold front will then move into the region on Friday. This will result in moderate northwest winds throughout the day. High temperatures will range from the 20s west to the 30s east. There is a slight chance of snow across all of the state on Friday with a dusting to an inch of accumulation possible.


Reinforcing cold air is expected to move into the northern Great Plains this weekend. This will keep high temperatures in the teens to low 20s on Saturday with single digits to teens for highs on Sunday. Northwesterly winds will continue both days which may lead to some wind chill issues. Skies are expected to be partly to mostly cloudy through the weekend. Overnight low temps on both Saturday and Sunday night will likely be around or below the 0 degree mark.


Summary: No fire weather issues are expected this week and much colder temperatures will move in this weekend. (Darren Clabo)


(Fire/Fuels) No major fire issues to report.  Major pile burning activity in the Black Hills contributed to good progress of fuels management projects in meeting goals. No expected fire activity in areas of snow cover, but keep in mind, not all of South Dakota is holding snow pack. Any open range found in the northern part of the state may carry some smoldering or creeping fire if conditions are above freezing and there is a wind on a dry day. Exposed south-facing aspects within many areas of the Black Hills do not have snow cover as well: fire could run up a southern exposure and stop at the top of the hill. Snowpack across the Black Hills is below normal with some considerable variation in snow depth over the central and northern portions of the Hills. (Jim Strain/Darren Clabo)


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





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 *