DEADWOOD — Although it’s been rainy and snowy for the past week, that’s not enough to bring part the Northern Hills up to par when it comes to precipitation levels.
Lack of large-scale spring snowstorms, coupled with a snowmelt that occurred one month early have combined to put the Northern Hills in a precipitation deficit, with Lead lagging behind most, at four inches below average through April.
Hydrologist Melissa Smith with the National Weather Service in Rapid City said the abnormally dry conditions didn’t arrive overnight, as the biggest contributing factors began in 2016,
“We had such a dry fall last year,” Smith said. “Through the end of November, it was extremely dry and temperatures were three to five degrees above average for the month. In October and November, there was hardly any precipitation. The other thing is, we had one of the driest May and Junes ever on record back in 2016. While the moisture started to occur by the end of summer. In May and June, we typically see our wettest months in western South Dakota. As we went into the fall, we had one to one and one-half inches of precipitation, where we normally have three.”
Smith said that while there were quite a few snowstorms, it wasn’t a record year and while it was colder than average in December and January, there was coldness, but not necessarily an abundance of wetness.
“Typically, April is our snowiest month in the Northern Black Hills,” Smith said. “But the snow melted out in the Black Hills a month early, saturating the ground, but leaving a lot of creeks and streams not flowing. With the abnormally dry conditions prior to this spring, the water all went into the ground. The ground is not saturated enough for springs and streams to run this year.”
For example, Smith pointed out, a spring snowstorm forecast for…