Abnormally dry to severe drought conditions reported in much of Wyoming - Casper, WY Oil City News
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Abnormally dry to severe drought conditions reported in much of Wyoming

(National Weather Service in Riverton)

CASPER, Wyo. — The National Weather Service in Riverton said on Thursday, June 25 that drought conditions are expanding in western and central Wyoming.

“This increase in drought activity across the region is due to an abnormally dry Spring leading to lower soil moisture conditions,” the NWS in Riverton said.

The drought conditions vary in different regions of the state, according to the NWS in Riverton:

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  • Severe drought conditions (D2) reported in central Johnson County over the last week
  • Moderate drought conditions (D1) cover:
    • Natrona County
    • Big Horn County
    • Hot Springs County
    • Washakie County
    • Johnson County (except where conditions are severe)
    • eastern and central Fremont County
    • southeastern Park County
    • northwestern Sweetwater County
    • southern Lincoln County
  • Abnormally dry conditions (D0) cover:
    • central and northwest Park County
    • western Fremont County
    • southeast and southern Sublette County
    • southwest Teton County
    • western and northern Sweetwater County

With the dry conditions, the NWS in Riverton also talked about fire danger.

“Warmer and drier weather conditions of late April thru June have left drier than normal soil conditions across Wyoming,” the NWS in Riverton said. “This lack of precipitation and soil moisture has lead to a shorter green-up season and the continued increase in fire danger across the region.”

“The latest Evaporative Demand Drought Index (EDDI) is indicating drier than normal conditions across most of the state with extreme drier than normal conditions across central and eastern Wyoming.”

The drought conditions could also impact agriculture in the state.

“The June 21st, 2020 USDA Wyoming Crop Progress Report indicated that that 54 percent of topsoil moisture across the state were reported at short to very short, compared to 6 percent this time last year and 22 percent for the 5 year average,” the NWS in Riverton said. “Subsoil moisture had increased to 50 percent at short to very short statewide, compared to 7 percent this time last year and 22 percent for a 5 year average.”

Many areas of the state experienced less than 50% of normal precipitation levels in May, according to the NWS in Riverton.

“Central and southwestern Wyoming were the hardest hit,” they said.

May precipitation levels were low in the following specific areas:

  • Lander: 3% of normal
  • Pathfinder Dam: 6% of normal
  • Jeffrey City: 9% of normal
  • Farson: 10% of normal
  • Basin: 16% of normal
  • Casper: 15% of normal
  • Greybull: 20% of normal
  • Rock Springs: 21% of normal
  • Jackson: 53% of normal
  • Cody: 59% of normal

“So far, June has seen a some rainfall, mainly across the far west and north central Wyoming as a few storm systems did pass across the state,” the NWS in Riverton continued. “Unfortunately, it was still on the dry side with many sites still reporting well below normal precipitation totals.”

Specific areas have seen the following levels of precipitation so far in June:

  • Buffalo: 18% of normal
  • Casper: 19% of normal
  • Riverton: 21% of normal
  • Lander: 21% of normal
  • Cody: 54% of normal
  • Worland: 54% of normal
  • Greybull: 62% of normal
  • Jackson: 62% of normal
  • Lake Yellowstone: 65% of normal
  • Rock Springs: 116% of normal
  • Big Piney: 133% of normal

The NWS in Riverton said that no drought mitigation actions have been reported.

“The Climate Prediction Center’s (CPC) outlook for the next 2 weeks indicates better than average chances of above normal temperatures and below normal precipitation,” they added. “The CPC outlooks for the rest of July and August continues to indicate better than average chances of above normal temperatures and below normal precipitation across Wyoming.”

“The seasonal drought outlooks through September 30th indicates that drought conditions are expected to persist across central and northern Wyoming and likely to develop across the rest of the state.”

The NWS in Riverton said they would issue updates by July 10 or sooner if necessary.

The U.S. Drought Monitor, U.S. Drought Information System, the NWS in Riverton and the Wyoming Water Resource Data System provide further drought information.