Red flag warnings in September 2021 when last year it was snowing

(Scarlett Lisjak)
Published: Sep. 9, 2021 at 6:14 PM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) -Fire danger in the Black Hills has been high for months, and even with one of the hottest summers on record almost over, Red flag warnings are still popping up for Rapid City and the surrounding areas, signaling strong winds, low humidity, and warm temperatures.

Hot, dry and smoky have been the conditions for most the summer however, last September it was snowing. State Fire Meteorologist, Darren Clabo says South Dakota’s geographic location makes for diverse weather conditions.

“We’re really located in a unique place in the world we’re in the Northern Great Plains and were at the foothills of a low mountain range, so you get the combination of the geography, the terrain that’s around us, along with different air masses that are coming out of Canada which are really cold or air masses coming out of the southeastern part of the United States which are warm and humid,” Clabo said.

While last September saw snow, this week temperatures reached 90 multiple times. “We’re actually a little bit drier than average and we saw some of the drought conditions actually degrade over the past week,” Clabo said.

And that makes fire danger high, “dry conditions, dry years when they build off other dry years, really tilt the scales toward a lot more wildfire activity,” Clabo said.

A drought in summer could give way to a dry winter, Clabo says if that is the case there would be problems for farmers come spring, “We’re really needing a wetter than average winter time to bring us into the spring next year to give us a good growing season however, I don’t have a lot of confidence in that right now, it looks like we will maintain these dry conditions.”

Clabo adds over the next 72 hours we may see and smell a lot more smoke in the air being pushed into the region from neighboring states.

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