South Dakota Drought Worse Than Dust Bowl

August 30, 2012 04:01 AM

Source: South Dakota State University

Drawing to the end of the climatological summer we are starting to get some perspective on the overall summer conditions and impacts. While yield losses and other agricultural conditions are being assessed, we do have some total perspective on the climatological conditions across the state, says Dennis Todey, South Dakota State Climatologist.

"Although statewide data compilation and final rankings for the month will have to wait for the data from more stations across the state to be determined information for individual stations is complete enough to provide some indications on rankings and for the whole summer, totals are very sobering," Todey said.

He adds that most stations in the far southeast corner of the state will set all-time records for precipitation. These stations have data for over 100 years, including the Dust Bowl. The more complete rankings will be released the first week in September.

"Any time you are comparing records with the Dust Bowl, you have some serious issues," Todey said. "While temperatures were generally just short of Dust Bowl records, precipitation records did beat many from the 1930s."

"The agricultural impacts for the summer are huge," Todey said. "From corn yield losses and pasture and range areas. Given the numbers listed above it is obvious as to why yields were impacted so severely this year."

When reviewing the data, Todey says it is interesting to see that many precipitation records are not from some of the typical drought years.

"When we think of more recent drought years, we typically think of 1976, 1988 and 2006. These years appear in some records. But several others such as 1931 and 1970 hold previous precipitation records," he said. "The temperature record standard is still 1936, holding most of the summer records in South Dakota."


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