The 2016 fire season brought drought and several large fires throughout western South Dakota, including the Cottonwood Fire that burned over 41,000 acres east of Wall.
So far this spring, precipitation is above average, a trend that South Dakota State Fire Meteorologist Darren Clabo expects to continue through the early part of the summer. That, combined with temperatures expected to be near average through the same time leads Clabo to expect a below average to average fire season around the Black Hills this summer.
South Dakota State Fire Meteorologist Darren Clabo says, "Right now, it looks like we're going to see above average precipitation, at least over the next two to three months. That should really mitigate overall fire potential going into the summer months. The Black Hills typically see their peak fire season in July and August. If we see precipitation this time of the year, that can mitigate that overall risk."
Long-range weather models do hint at above average temperatures along with above average precipitation through the latter half of the summer into the early fall. Clabo says that if that is indeed the case, we would have higher than normal fire potential during that period.