S.D. Climate Update: October 2012 in review and a look forward

South Dakota State University, 11/07/2012

For only the second time in 2012, the monthly average temperature for South Dakota was cooler than average in October. Statewide, nearly all locations were also drier than average, according to latest reports from the National Weather Service observers and the High Plains Regional Climate Center in Lincoln, Neb.

"There was very little drought relief to speak of," said Laura Edwards, SDSU Extension Climate Field Specialist. "Harvest of corn, soybeans, and sunflowers is pretty much complete, which is a positive impact from drought, but winter wheat is continuing to struggle with the lack of moisture."

Only two climate observing locations were warmer than average in October, Hot Springs and Ardmore, both in Fall River county. Elsewhere, the mercury fell as much as five degrees below average. Wessington Springs, Forestburg, and Flandreau were among those that reported the largest differences from average.

A three-county area in the northeast was wetter than average, but that is an anomaly from the rest of South Dakota.

"There was a big rain event around Oct. 20 and 21 that brought over 3 inches of rain to the Webster and Waubay area," said Edwards. "That is the second time this year where Day County received much more rainfall than the surrounding area. The other occurrence was in July, during the peak of the summer drought."

One positive note going forward is the updated climate outlook for November. The latest map, released Nov. 1, puts northern South Dakota in an area of higher chances of wetter than average conditions.

"There have been a lot of fluctuations this fall in the outlook maps, but a wetter pattern may be settling in, at least for the next couple of weeks," said Edwards.

The remaining two-thirds of the state is forecast to have equal chances of below average, above average, and near average precipitation.

Temperature projections for the next month appear to continue the warm trend that we have seen for most of the year. All of the state is projected to have higher chances of warmer than average temperatures in November.

Edwards says there may be some short-term relief of drought conditions this month. She adds that she is looking towards November with reserved optimism.

"I'm ever the optimist, but each passing dry month is making it more difficult to keep that optimism," said Edwards.

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