Dry conditions so far this March have drought conditions continuing across western South Dakota and northeastern Wyoming. Most of the winter snowpack has melted with much of that moisture making its way into the ground. However, warm conditions so far in March with limited precipitation have caused drought conditions to remain across the area.
At the beginning of March, Moderate (D1) drought conditions covered Crook, Weston and eastern Campbell counties in Wyoming. In western South Dakota, Moderate (D1) drought conditions covered Butte, Lawrence, most of Pennington, Custer, Fall River, Oglala Lakota, western Meade and southwestern Harding counties.
Abnormally dry (D0) conditions covered the rest of Campbell County Wyoming, the rest of Harding, most of Perkins, eastern Meade, western Jackson, western Haakon, and western Bennett counties in South Dakota.
Soil moisture is beginning to recover in the top layers of the ground due to the recent snowmelt.
Stock ponds and dugouts are still low, which continues to limit water for cattle and other animals.
Temperatures in February were above average across the entire area. Precipitation amounts were slightly below average across the northern sections and slightly above average south of a line from Wright, Wyo., to the central Black Hills to Winner, S.D. Overall, about half of the days in February some form of precipitation fell, either in the form of rain or snow. However, the precipitation amounts were mostly light.
Water temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean are around average, indicating neutral conditions.
The outlook for the spring and summer is for neutral conditions to continue. Neutral conditions generally bring a warmer and wetter pattern to the southern half of the United States with a cold polar jet stream diving across Canada into the northeastern United States.
The northern plains will be in the transition zone between the two air masses that would create varying conditions for the northern plains.
The three month outlook for March, April, and May calls for a somewhat increased chance for normal to slightly above normal temperatures with odds favoring average precipitation.
Source: National Weather Service