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GILLETTE, Wyo. (AP) — Drought conditions are persisting in portions of northeastern Wyoming and western South Dakota.
The National Weather Service in Rapid City, South Dakota, issued a recent drought update saying that the region has seen months of warmer-than-average temperatures combined with dry conditions.
The Gillette News Record reported (http://bit.ly/2h3FG1x) that agency hydrologist Melissa Smith said some areas have seen ongoing drought conditions since May.
Smith said recent cold temperatures have caused the ground to freeze. That will make it difficult for any melting snow to soak in and improve soil moisture conditions. That means areas of drought likely will persist through much of the winter.
Severe drought conditions continue in portions of Harding and Butte counties in western South Dakota and portions of Weston and Crook counties in northeast Wyoming. Moderate drought conditions are reported in Weston and Crook counties and the northeast portion of Campbell County.
A storm that passed through the region last week brought some needed moisture. Snowfall of 14 inches was recorded a mile north-northeast of Sundance and 10 inches in the Four Corners area of Weston County. Some parts of South Dakota in the Black Hills recorded up to 36 inches of snow.
Long-term dryness has reduced forage with most pasture conditions in the area rating between poor and good, Smith said. Stock ponds and dugouts are low, continuing to limit water for cattle and other animals, she said.
Temperatures for most of 2016 have been above average, Smith said. The average maximum temperature in Gillette in November was 56.1 degrees, nearly 10 degrees above normal and the highest average warm temperature in November for the past 30 years.
The highest temperature at the weather station four miles southeast of Gillette at the city's wastewater treatment plant was 73 degrees Nov. 9. Temperatures of 65, 68, 62 and 67 also were recorded through Nov. 16, before the highs dropped to the mid-50s and 40s the rest of the month.
The final two days of November, when temperatures fell to 36 and 33 degrees for daytime highs, were the coldest of the 30 days of the month.
Overall, the average temperature in November (including lows and highs) was 43.7 degrees. That's the second warmest average from the years 1981 to 2010.
Total precipitation in Gillette since July 1 stands at just over 13 inches, below the normal of 16.30 inches of moisture.
Information from: The Gillette (Wyo.) News Record, http://www.gillettenewsrecord.com
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