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Water

Drought Forecast Continues largely Positive

Written by Windy Kelley

Wyoming experienced its 112th warmest and seventh driest June to August in the 122 years data have been collected. However, temperatures and precipitation were near average throughout the state in August.

The Sept. 13 U.S. Drought Monitor map shows drought conditions have lessened in areas of Wyoming. However, moderate to severe drought persists throughout Crook, Weston, Campbell and Big Horn counties. Drought conditions have intensified in Park and Teton counties, from abnormally dry to severe, and moderate drought conditions have evolved in northern Lincoln, Sublette and Fremont counties. Abnormally dry conditions have expanded throughout Lincoln, Uinta, Sublette, Sweetwater, Carbon and Niobrara counties. Abnormally dry conditions persist throughout other counties in Wyoming.

To view the latest U.S. Drought Monitor map, which is updated weekly, visit weather.gov/riw/drought.

The Seasonal Drought Outlook for Sept. 15 to Dec. 31 shows conditions are expected to improve everywhere except northern Teton County, where drought is expected to persist. Drought conditions are expected to continue but improve in areas of Crook, Weston and Campbell counties.

Monthly and seasonal forecasts

As of Sept. 15, all of Wyoming has a greater probability – 40 percent – to experience above normal temperatures in October. The precipitation signals for October are less clear with equal chances of above, below or normal.

The seasonal temperature outlook for October through December in Wyoming shows a 33 to 50 percent probability that the state will experience above normal temperatures – with the lowest probability in the northeast corner. The seasonal precipitation outlook for Wyoming shows an equal chance of above, below or normal precipitation, with the exception of the very northern swath of the state, where there’s a 33 percent probability of above normal precipitation.

There are fewer active fires now compared to a month ago. However, similar to last month, the fire potential remains high for much of the state. We should remain vigilant and prepared for the potential of continued fires throughout the state considering current conditions and the October outlook.

The La Niña watch has been cancelled for the fall and winter. However, it’s anticipated Wyoming will experience patterns more associated with La Niña but to a lower degree and with less confidence. Time will tell for the fall and winter conditions, so stay tuned next month for an update.

Ag considerations

We want to highlight the most recent issue of RangelandsDrought on Rangelands: Effects and Solutions. Rangelands is a scientific, non-technical journal written for a wide-range of audiences ranging from educators, rangeland managers and owners to policy leaders.

The current issue is open or free access, which means anyone can view the publication. The drought-focused issue includes 11 articles. The following are titles of several of the articles:

Where Do Seasonal Climate Predictions Belong in the Drought Management Toolbox?

New Tools for Assessing Drought Conditions for Rangeland Management

Rangeland Responses to Predicted Increases in Drought Extremity

Drought Mitigation for Grazing Operations: Matching the Animal to the Environment

Adaptive Management on Rangelands

“In Every Rancher’s Mind:” Effects of Drought on Ranch Planning and Practice

The issue is available at sciencedirect.com/science/journal/01900528/38/4.

We hope you find the publication of interest. Do you have drought, rangelands or livestock management related questions? Let us know. Email Windy at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Windy Kelley of UW Extension and the Northern Plains Climate Hub is available at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 307-766-2205. Tony Bergantino, Wyoming Water Resources Data System deputy director, and Justin Derner of USDA’s Agricultural Research Service also reviewed this article.