With alternating cool and warm weather patterns throughout the last few months and the summer season ahead, temperature forecasts are hard to nail down for climatologists in South Dakota.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center released its June climate outlook May 21. It did not provide a clear prediction of what is to come for temperatures. It projected equal chances of warmer, cooler or near average temperatures in June for all but the far western edge of the state. The west has a slightly higher chance of warmer temps this summer.
Projections for precipitation seem to be more consistent, according to Laura Edwards, SDSU Extension State Climatologist. The outlook predicts wetter than average conditions from June through August, especially in the eastern half of the state.
In the latter half of the summer, the western half may shift toward equal chances of wetter, drier or near average moisture, she said.
Some areas experienced dry conditions in April and early May. Recent rains eased concerns about crops through much of the region, but in northwestern South Dakota, there's still a worry. Rainfall in the remaining days of May and June will be critical for grass and forage production and any row crops that already have been planted.
“With drier conditions in the north, it may become prudent to test water sources for livestock, as dry years can often lead to poor water quality in stock ponds and watering areas,” Edwards said. “SDSU Extension is preparing for water and forage testing for nitrates, should that be needed.”
In the east, the dry period in late April pushed planting progress ahead rapidly, and by mid-May, corn and soybean planting was ahead of the five-year average. The one notable exception is in the James River valley, where persistent wet soils and standing water have proven difficult to work around.
Early season emergence of field crops appears to be good overall. The outlook for wetter than average conditions in the summer months could indicate continued sufficient moisture for these crops, and near average temperatures could reduce any long-term heat stress and avoid drought.
For home gardeners, this could reduce the need for hand watering and sprinklers, but could require increased lawn management. Gardens should see rapid growth soon, as the risk of frost is likely in the past.