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Summer Weather Outlooks

Written by Dick Perue

Wyoming experienced above average temperatures and much above average precipitation in May. This said, June has brought record-breaking high temperatures and a sharp decline in the percent of average precipitation – combined with wind. This is resulting in a decline in soil moisture and is causing severe crop stress in parts of the state, particularly the northeast.

The June 23 U.S. Drought Monitor map shows continued moderate drought conditions in the Tongue and Big Horn basins. Severe drought rapidly developed in Crook and Weston counties surrounded by moderate drought in Campbell and Niobrara counties and abnormally dry conditions into Sheridan and Johnson counties on the eastern and western borders, respectively. 

The June 16 Seasonal Drought Outlook through Sept. 30 is less optimistic than last month – showing continued drought in areas currently experiencing moderate to severe drought.

Month and seasonal forecasts

As of June 16, Wyoming has a high probability of above average temperatures for the month of July and equal chances of above, below or average precipitation.

The July to September outlook for Wyoming suggests a greater probability for above normal temperatures. The seasonal precipitation outlook for the state is equal chances of above, below or normal with the exception of northwest Wyoming, where there’s a greater probability for below normal precipitation.

As readers might have heard, El Niño conditions dissipated at the end of May, and the index is currently negative. Looking further out, it appears La Niña will continue to intensify, and we should expect a La Niña winter for 2016-17.

La Niña seasons typically see a more northern track for the jet stream, which often results in higher snowfall for the northern states, and a drier winter for the southern ones. The effects are more defined in the northern, especially northwestern, parts of Wyoming, which would have better chances of seeing the higher snowfall. 

The dividing line between the effects runs through southern Wyoming. We always seem to be in the middle area where forecasts and predictions are less certain. The strength of La Niña also plays a part, and initial forecasts are not showing this to be an exceptionally strong La Niña, at least not for the upcoming winter. This said, the forecast could change, so producers should stay tuned for updated forecasts.

Ag considerations

Noting the above conditions and forecasts, we should be prepared to see more areas in Wyoming become abnormally dry or increase in drought severity particularly in eastern and central Wyoming.

If these conditions persist it could result in elevated fire potential throughout Wyoming given the fuel load, and hotter, drier conditions. Eastern Wyoming and areas bordering Colorado and South Dakota have already experienced wildfires this season.

You can learn more about fires in Wyoming and other states at inciweb.nwcg.gov and nifc.gov/fireInfo/fireInfo_maps.html.

We can’t forget the value and importance of identifying and mapping weed infestations this time of year and, if appropriate, treatment and/or removal of weeds. Visit wyoweed.org/weeds/state-designated-weeds to view state designated noxious weeds and the 2016 list of county declared weeds.

Contact your local Weed and Pest or Extension office to ensure you use the best method(s) to manage weeds. And join the Play, Clean, GoTM movement and ensure your farm and ranch equipment are clean to help stop the spread of invasive species.

Windy K. Kelley, UW Extension and USDA Northern Plains Regional Climate Hub Regional Extension program coordinator, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 307-766-2205 or Wyoming Water Resources Data System Deputy Director Tony Bergantino at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 307-766-3786.