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Spring Flooding and Fire Outlook

The late evening news on KEVN Black Hills Fox Sunday
Published: Feb. 14, 2022 at 3:20 PM MST
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - Over the summer, conditions were very dry. Now, overall things have improved slightly here in the winter, but we still have been below average in precipitation. Now how are we looking heading into the spring? The National Weather Service recently published their projected flooding outlook for the spring here in Rapid City. Hydrologist and Meteorologist Melissa Smith, the main author of the outlook, said:

“...we have a below average potential for flooding, and we’re looking at drought conditions persisting into the spring. So, what we look at is what the current conditions are. Right now, we have a lot of dry stock ponds out there and our soil is very dry. The recent snow we’ve had the last couple of days has helped a little bit. However, we are sitting very below average for precipitation throughout the winter so far. If something doesn’t change in the upcoming months, then we are going to be looking at even worse drought conditions than what we have right now.”

Although it appears the flooding will be down, how does the fire season look? Fire Meteorologist Darren Clabo said.

“On years that we expect a lot of flooding means a lot of precipitation and soil moistures are very high. The fuel moisture will also be high. Years where we don’t expect a lot of flooding, there’s potential for it to be a lot dryer and that’s kind of what we’re looking forward to this year. Kind of a warmer than average and dryer than average spring. Which is gonna increase the fire risk.”

The other thing he mentioned was about how the Spring precipitation can influence the Summer fire season. He said:

“In South Dakota we definitely have a 12 month fire season. Now we typically think of our peak fire season kind of between the fourth of July and Labor Day and the spring precipitation really dictates the overall fire season that we are going to have during that period.”

Overall, it doesn’t appear were gonna see many changes as we head into the spring.

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