Drought conditions expected to ease in West River
This spring in South Dakota is expected to be wet, and that’s good news for West River ranchers who have been dealing with drought conditions since early last growing season.
The latest climate outlook from the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration predicts a wetter than average spring, especially in western and central South Dakota.
The types of grasses that cover the hills of western South Dakota rely on spring moisture, and April precipitation is important for pasture conditions and summer forage production, Edwards said.
Winter snows and spring rains are likely to put an end to drought conditions in the state.
Much of western South Dakota was listed under a moderate drought or abnormally dry conditions, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor from mid-February.
“We are going to need that spring moisture.” The Cottonwood area east of Wall is especially in need of precipitation to help it recover from a fire that scorched more than 41,000 acres and killed cattle last October.
Snow cover has been sparse in eastern South Dakota this winter, but precipitation came as rain and is pretty much on track with average.
Soil moisture was above normal across the eastern two-thirds of the state, according to the National Weather Service.
In northern Iowa, there was 9-18 inches of frost in the ground by the end of February, which is below normal.
Some areas of southern Iowa have been frost-free all winter.