A wet summer may yield a mild winter for Black Hills

August 28, 2018

NORTHERN HILLS — It’s been an above average summer for rainfall throughout most of the Black Hills.

Spearfish is experiencing its fifth wettest summer since 1893, with 13.53 inches of rainfall since June first up from an average of 7.5 inches, according to weather officials. Belle Fourche is in its eighth wettest summer since 1908 with 9.25 inches, up from a 5.85 inch-average, and Lead-Deadwood is in its 14th wettest summer since 1909 with 12.37 inches, up from 8.42 inches.

“We’ve just had lots of moisture in the atmosphere and our summer time around here we get a lot of thunderstorms,” said Melissa Smith, a hydrologist with the National Weather Service in Rapid City. “Some summers are more active with more storms than others.”

Summer months recorded are June, July, and August and more rain is predicted for the area this week.

Smith said that according current weather models, the winter months for the Black Hills look to be relatively mild.

“It looks like we’re going to be heading into an El Nino,” she said. “Typically an El Nino winter for the Northern Plains would indicate a warmer winter with less snowfall.”

While the outlook for winter in the Black Hills calls for less moisture and therefore less snowfall, Smith pointed out that the moisture seen in the Black Hills could carry through the fall months.

“We (the National Weather Service) consider the winter being December, January, February,” Smith said.

If as much moisture remains in the atmosphere, as has been this summer, the Black Hills could be looking at a good deal of snowfall once the cold autumn air blows in.

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