South Dakota 

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Climate in South Dakota

South Dakota experiences a variety of climates, ranging from semi-arid to humid continental. Summers in South Dakota are usually hot and dry, with temperatures typically reaching into the 80s and 90s. Winters tend to be cold and dry, with snowfall covering much of the state from late October until April. Average precipitation for the state is around 20 inches annually. One unique feature of the climate in South Dakota is its wide range of elevation - from 762 feet above sea level in Yankton to 14,000 feet above sea level in Harney Peak. This means that weather can vary greatly depending on where you are in the state. In general, though, South Dakotans can expect hot summers and cold winters with moderate amounts of precipitation throughout the year.

South Dakota, South Dakota gets 23 inches of rain, on average, per year. The US average is 38 inches of rain per year.

South Dakota averages 39 inches of snow per year. The US average is 28 inches of snow per year.

On average, there are 213 sunny days per year in South Dakota. The US average is 205 sunny days.

South Dakota gets some kind of precipitation, on average, 80 days per year. Precipitation is rain, snow, sleet, or hail that falls to the ground. In order for precipitation to be counted you have to get at least .01 inches on the ground to measure.

Weather Highlights

Summer High: the July high is around 85 degrees
Winter Low: the January low is 7
Rain: averages 23 inches of rain a year
Snow: averages 39 inches of snow a year


South Dakota's annual BestPlaces Comfort Index of 6.8 (10=best) indicates it is less comfortable than most states in the United States.

9.1 / 4.5

Summer   /   Winter
August, June and July are the most pleasant months in the state of South Dakota, while January and December are the least comfortable months.

Climate Averages
  South Dakota, South DakotaUnited States
  22.6 in.38.1 in.
  38.6 in.27.8 in.
  80.1 days106.2 days
  213 days205 days
  1956 ft.2443 ft.


Many people confuse weather and climate but they are different. Weather is the conditions of the atmosphere over a short period of time, and climate is how the atmosphere is over long periods of time.

Weather is how the atmosphere is behaving and its effects upon life and human activities. Weather can change from minute-to-minute. Most people think of weather in terms of temperature, humidity, precipitation, cloudiness, brightness, visibility, wind, and atmospheric pressure.

Climate is the description of the long-term pattern of weather in a place. Climate can mean the average weather for a particular region and time period taken over 30 years. Climate is the average of weather over time.

July is the hottest month for South Dakota with an average high temperature of 85.2°, which ranks it as about average compared to other states. In South Dakota, there are 3 comfortable months with high temperatures in the range of 70-85°. The most pleasant months of the year for South Dakota are June, September and August.

South Dakota has 20.8 days annually when the high temperature is over 90°, which is about average compared to other states in the U.S.

January has the coldest nighttime temperatures for South Dakota with an average of 7.1°. This is colder than most of the U.S. states.

South Dakota has 167.4 days annually when the nighttime low temperature falls below freezing, which is colder than most states in the U.S.

South Dakota averages 25.9 days annually when the nighttime low temperature falls below freezing, which is one of the coldest states in the U.S.

Humidity in the state of South Dakota is generally quite low and comfortable. There are few days during the summer when the humidity becomes unpleasant. The most humid months (but still comfortable) are July, August and June.

June is the wettest month in South Dakota with 3.7 inches of rain, and the driest month is January with 0.5 inches. The wettest season is Autumn with 41% of yearly precipitation and 7% occurs in Spring, which is the driest season. South Dakota's average annual rainfall of 22.6 inches indicates that it is drier than most states in the United States.

June is the rainiest month in South Dakota with 10.1 days of rain, and January is the driest month with only 4.4 rainy days. South Dakota's annual average of 80.1 days with measurable rain is less rainy than most states in the United States. The rainiest season is Autumn when it rains 32% of the time and the driest is Spring with only a 16% chance of a rainy day.

With an average annual snowfall of 38.6 inches, South Dakota is about average compared to other states in the United States. March is the snowiest month in South Dakota with 7.4 inches of snow, and 7 months of the year have significant snowfall.

  • Annual Rainfall (US Avg: 36.5")
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    Reviews for South Dakota    14 Reviews
    Quality of Life stinks unless have monry - 1/29/2016
    South Dakota is not a place for young or old poor people. Only the rich can enjoy this state The state does not care about the poor,kids,or elderly.Fine example cut... Read More

    Start Your Review of South Dakota

    Heart of America - 10/30/2013
    I've lived in South Dakota most of my life. I love this place I call home. There was a time when I hated it here, but now I can't imagine living anywhere else. Some... Read More

    Great place to live - 10/9/2011
    I am a person who has been around the world (Navy) and have lived everywhere from South Dakota to California, Hawaii, Florida, Virginia, Overseas in Naples, Spain,... Read More

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