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USA - Drought conditions expanding in Wyoming, increasing fire danger

The National Weather Service in Riverton says that “dry conditions continue to increase in intensity across much of Wyoming.”

“A very dry Spring and early Summer has expanded drought conditions across much of Wyoming in July,” the NWS in Riverton said on Thursday, July 30. “This will also increase the Fire Danger across the region.”

The NWS in Riverton shared the following map from the United States Drought Monitor which shows moderate to extreme drought conditions across much of the state:

“This increase in drought activity is due to an abnormally dry spring and early summer leading to low soil moisture conditions across the region,” the NWS in Riverton says. “Extreme drought (D3) conditions have expanded across extreme eastern Big Horn, northern and south central Johnson, northeastern Natrona, eastern Hot Springs and central Washakie Counties this week.”

“Severe drought (D2) conditions have increased across the rest of Johnson, Washakie and Natrona Counties, as well as eastern Big Horn, central and eastern Fremont, and northeastern Sweetwater Counties. Moderate Drought (D1) conditions continued across the rest of Sweetwater and Hot Springs Counties, as well as central and southern Big Horn, west central Fremont, southeast Park and southern and eastern Lincoln Counties.”

The NWS in Riverton add: “Abnormally Dry (D0) conditions remained across eastern and northwest Park, western Fremont, southeastern Sublette and northwest Big Horn Counties.”

Western and central Wyoming saw a lack of precipitation for most of July, which “has increased the fire danger across the region.”

“The mostly warmer and drier weather conditions since late April have left drier than normal soil conditions across much of Wyoming,” the NWS in Riverton add. “This has lead to a shorter than normal greenup season and the continued increase in fire danger across the region.”

“The latest Evaporative Demand Drought Index (EDDI) from July 25th, 2020 is indicating persistent drier than normal soil conditions across much of central and eastern Wyoming.”

The NWS in Riverton add that low soil moisture conditions “have continued to increase across much of Wyoming in late July.”

“The July 26th, 2020 USDA Wyoming Crop Progress Report indicated that 75 percent of topsoil moisture across the state were reported at short to very short, compared to 45 percent this time last year and 42 percent for the 5 year average,” they add. “The reports of the lack of subsoil moisture had increased to 78 percent at short to very short statewide, compared to 50 percent this time last year and 41 percent for a 5 year average.”

Storms in July dropped small amounts of rain in western and central Wyoming, “but mostly across the far north.”

“Overall, July has been very warm and dry across the region with most rain gauge sites reporting less than a tenth of an inch so far.” the NWS in Riverton add. “June was a mixed bag of precipitation totals, with wetter than normal sites like Pinedale getting 280 percent of normal, Boulder with 239 percent, Afton with 203 percent, Powell with 185 percent, Cody 133 percent and even Green River with 208 percent.”

“On the other hand, central and eastern Wyoming remained on the dry side as Casper only received 19 percent of normal rainfall, 29 percent at Pathfinder Dam, 31 percent at Lander, 34 percent at Riverton, 58 percent at Kaycee, 61 percent at Buffalo, 66 percent near Tensleep and 67 percent at Worland.”

The NWS add that the Climate Prediction Center forecast “better than average chances of above normal temperatures and below normal precipitation” over the next two weeks.

“The CPC outlooks for August through October continues to indicate better than average chances of above normal temperatures and below normal precipitation across Wyoming, especially across the south,” the NWS in Riverton say. “The monthly drought outlook for July depicts that drought conditions will persist through the rest of the month, as the seasonal drought outlook through October 31st continues to indicate that drought conditions are expected to persist across central and eastern Wyoming.”

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