Some unusual weather events were reported in northeast South Dakota recently, but area producers welcomed the timely rains that came with them.
Britton Journal 
Unusual weather has affected both Claremont and the Kidder area in recent weeks. What is thought to be a small tornado caused some damage in Claremont at about 2 a.m. May 19.
Doug Svatos, who lives right in the center of town, suffered the brunt of the damage estimated at $5,000-$6,000.
“I think it was a little tornado that came through town past Third Base and across the Masonic Temple but probably never actually hit the ground,” Svatos said. “It took the shingles off the Masonic Temple and they hit my Yukon, causing $3,200 damage and did damage to five other vehicles and the siding on my house.”
Svatos also said that shingles were driven an inch and a half into fence posts and one was sticking through the side of his garbage can. Power lines behind the Svatos home were completely full of fire brush blown onto the lines and into the transformer on the pole, resulting in a temporary loss of power. He also said he picked up a couple of pieces of debris from unknown origin.
“I think we were pretty lucky,” concluded Svatos. “If you get something driving shingles into posts, it sure looks like a tornado.”
Rich Rauch of Langford, who owns a rental home in Claremont, said a picture window on one side of the home exploded.
“The window just blew out of the house, and I found pieces of glass in the alley 100 feet away,” Rauch said. “Glass had blown everywhere. There was also a tree that blew down in the yard.”
Last week Tuesday morning, May 14, John Fisher, who lives six miles west of Kidder, witnessed an unusual event.
“I was out in the yard and it was as calm as could be, but then I saw a giant cloud of black dirt coming. Then a blast of wind came through the yard and tipped over my seed conveyor and tore two trees out by the roots. It didn’t even last a minute and then it was calm again. It just blasted through here and was gone. I can’t say for sure because there was so much dust in the air, but I think it was a straight wind. It was a pretty strong blast,” Fisher said.
DuWayne Bosse lives near the area and witnessed what he thinks may have been a microburst of wind.
“I was looking out my office window and actually thought it was a bunch of rain coming. Then I realized it was dust,” Bosse said. “I saw it hit the highline poles and cause them to arc, putting out a pretty bright blue light. After the dust settled I could see the REA pole was broken and the irrigation pivot tipped over.”
Bosse said the storm seemed to travel only about a quarter mile and then settled down.
“I called Renny (Tank) since he owned the pivot, and I don’t think he believed me for the longest time,” Bosse added. “And I had a few people accuse me of being up too late the night before. But it just seemed to move to the southeast and kind of dissipated. I really didn’t think it was anything threatening at all until I saw the damage afterward.”
On the positive side, farmers and ranchers enjoyed a slow two-day rain that brought 1.98 inches of moisture to the area. Reports indicated that at least 75 percent of the corn is in the ground, along with a few soybeans, so the timing was good.
Joe Gustafson of Full Circle Ag also said the rain was also a good break for ag workers and producers who have been taking advantage of nearly ideal planting weather and going full bore for the past several weeks.
Heading into early Tuesday, May 21, Clark had received two inches of rain. It’s fairly safe to say that the entire county is getting this needed moisture, in relatively the same amount.
“The corn is pretty much in the ground, but the same cannot be said for the beans,” has been heard more than once by area producers. Meteorologists had been predicting last weekend’s rain event for some time, so there was a mad dash to get the seeds in the ground.
Precipitation events continue to ease drought issues in some areas of South Dakota, while others are ongoing, said Dennis Todey, SDSU Extension Climatologist.
“The issue of easing versus continuing drought is one of location in the state,” Todey said. “Eastern locations have seen some improvement throughout the spring, while western areas still have serious drought issues.”‘
Todey said rainfall from the week of May 6 and continued timely precipitation throughout the spring has improved soil moisture conditions in the east. However, some soils are still dry, particularly deeper in the profile.
“The moist, but not wet, surface soils have made for good planting progress during the last two weeks,” he added.
Looking ahead in the short term, Todey said that the large storm event has impacted the whole state with several opportunities for precipitation statewide through the week, including chances for significant amounts in far eastern areas.
“This system brought another opportunity to ease drought conditions depending on locations of precipitation and alignment with the driest areas. It will certainly not bring a widespread end to the drought,” he said.
Precipitation falling on the heels of major planting progress would be beneficial to help spur crop development in recently planted fields. Heavier precipitation in northeastern South Dakota has slowed planting progress for soybeans.
The new long-range outlook and Drought Monitor outlook align with current conditions, said Laura Edwards, SDSU Extension Climate Field Specialist. On the drought Outlook map the eastern quarter of the state is categorized as “Improvement Likely.” The rest of the state is included in the “Some Improvement” category.
“The difference lies in that the current precipitation event has the better chance of improving short-term drought conditions in eastern South Dakota,” Edwards said.
Throughout the rest of the state, chances for precipitation are less in the near term and looking ahead to the summer. The new long range outlooks include better chances for below average precipitation in far southwestern South Dakota into mid-summer. Coupled with the better chances for warmer than average conditions throughout the summer, Edwards said the chances for drought recovery are reduced.
She said that ongoing drought conditions at some level are quite likely throughout much of the western part of the state.
“Crops will have more chances to experience stress with warmer conditions. Rangelands that are stressed from last year’s drought will struggle to recover,” she said.
Faulk County has gotten some much needed rain this week, and not a minute too soon as far as the crops are concerned.
Faulkton weatherman Tom Barthomew reports 3.88 inches of rain for the Faulkton area.
In Orient, Rex Young reported that since May 14, he’s recorded 2.59 inches of rain.
“The planting is on schedule, no complaints,” Young said. “Everything is looking good and this last week was a real lifesaver.”
The corn and beans planting in the area is about 40 percent done.
Kelly Stevens of rural Miranda and reported good rain and good prospects.
“On Monday I had an inch of rain in less than an hour, and that was nice to see,” Stevens said. “Since Friday night we’ve had about 3 inches as of right now (May 21). I’ve heard some of the guys saying we’re getting too much rain, but I’m not complaining one bit. I said to them, remember this is South Dakota, the weather can change to 80 degrees with high winds to bake us dry real quick. We’ll take as much of this water as we can get right now.”
“The spring planting is going excellent,” Stevens continued. “The corn planting is all done. I’m just waiting for the rain to stop to get the soybeans finished, though I know some guys have gotten theirs all done already.”
Shannon Waldman in Onaka reported good rains after this initial dry spell of weather.
“We had about 2.60 inches of rain out at my place as of this morning (May 21), Waldman said. “Everybody was plugging away at spring planting. Wheat is all done, most of the corn is in, and guys are working on beans, though they might need to wait a week to get that done with these rains. It’ll be worth the wait though, as we can use every drop out there.”
In Seneca Jim Bitzer reported that though they may not have gotten as much as the rest of the county, they didn’t do too bad.
“On Saturday night we had 1.35 inches,” Bitzer said. “Yesterday (May 20) we had .85 inches, and it’s been raining all day today (May 21) as well. We got shorted when you compare us with everywhere else around, though we’re still happy though. Everybody is done with planting wheat and corn and they’re getting into planting beans. All this rain ought to make the grass jump right up.”