See how much of South Dakota is experiencing drought conditions

Drought

(STACKER) — Nearly one-third of Americans experienced a weather disaster this summer, giving them first-hand experience into a future of extreme hurricanes, wildfires, storms, and floods caused by global climate change. Data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and NASA both show rapid warming in the 21st century, with the past decade being the hottest on record. According to The Washington Post, the cost of responding to these weather disasters is more than $81 billion per year.

Among those disasters were several significant, costly, and deadly droughts. Droughts are among the most destructive forces in nature—only hurricanes are more economically damaging to the United States. Destroyed crops ripple through the economy, with animal feed prices increasing, which can indirectly raise the price of meats and animal products like milk and cheese. The annual losses due to drought are near $9 billion per year. Droughts also contribute to wildfires, increasing the likelihood of ignition and making them more extreme when they do happen.

Stacker ranked each state and Washington D.C., based on the average percentage of the state land that experienced drought conditions in the 20-year period from 2000 to March 2021, using data from the U.S. Drought Monitor (USDM). The USDM categories drought conditions using a five point scale ranging from “abnormally dry,” indicating some short-term crop dryness or a lingering water deficit, to “exceptional drought,” a serious condition involving a water emergency that leads to widespread crop/pasture losses.

South Dakota by the numbers

– Share of state experiencing drought conditions (20-year average): 35,071 sq. mi. (45.5% of land area); 325,158 people (40.7% of population)
— Moderate drought: 20,043 sq. mi. (26.0% of land area); 174,834 people (21.9% of population)
— Severe drought: 10,124 sq. mi. (13.1% of land area); 84,710 people (10.6% of population)
— Extreme drought: 3,609 sq. mi. (4.7% of land area); 33,679 people (4.2% of population)
— Exceptional drought: 728 sq. mi. (0.9% of land area); 6,807 people (0.9% of population)

South Dakota was mired in drought for nearly all of the 2010s, with severe, extreme, and even exceptional drought dominating much of the decade. That was followed by a massive spike in droughts in the early 2010s—at its peak in 2012, nearly one-third of South Dakota was suffering exceptional drought. It was so dry for so long, in fact, that despite record-breaking precipitation through 2020, 100% of the state is currently abnormally dry, and significant portions are in moderate or severe drought.

The entire national list, including descriptions of the conditions that led to or prevented drought in each state and the events leading up to the state’s change in drought status, can be found here. Continue reading to learn which states experience the worst droughts.

Most drought-ridden states

#1. Arizona
– Share of state experiencing drought conditions (20-year average): 87,702 sq. mi. (76.9% of land area); 4,867,057 people (76.1% of population)
#2. Nevada
– Share of state experiencing drought conditions (20-year average): 78,717 sq. mi. (71.2% of land area); 1,942,485 people (71.9% of population)
#3. New Mexico
– Share of state experiencing drought conditions (20-year average): 84,806 sq. mi. (69.8% of land area); 1,455,107 people (70.7% of population)

Least drought-ridden states

#1. Ohio
– Share of state experiencing drought conditions (20-year average): 6,631 sq. mi. (16.1% of land area); 1,815,050 people (15.7% of population)
#2. Alaska
– Share of state experiencing drought conditions (20-year average): 95,420 sq. mi. (16.4% of land area); 159,582 people (23.2% of population)
#3. New York
– Share of state experiencing drought conditions (20-year average): 8,721 sq. mi. (18.0% of land area); 4,174,482 people (21.5% of population)

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