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The Weekly News Source for Wyoming's Ranchers, Farmers and AgriBusiness Community

New Climate Tools Available for Producers

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

Wyoming has experienced above average temperatures in January through March. This year is the 32nd warmest of 124 years thus far, and the state has had near average precipitation in the same timeframe. 

The U.S. Drought Monitor (USDM) map from April 24 shows that conditions have improved throughout northeast Wyoming and along the eastern border – where conditions are now normal. 

However, abnormally dry conditions are persisting in Carbon, Sweetwater, Uinta and Lincoln counties. Moderate drought conditions are also persisting in western Carbon and eastern Sweetwater counties.

Our neighbor to the south, Colorado, continues to be impacted by drought – increasing in severity as we move from north to south. The southwestern corner of Colorado is experiencing exceptional drought – the most intense drought classification. 

Among our other neighboring states, northeastern Montana and much of western North and South Dakota continue to experience moderate drought. Severe drought conditions are present in a limited area of northeastern Montana. 

You can help inform the U.S. Drought Monitor by submitting conditions and impacts at the current USDM maps at


The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) eight- to 14-day forecast for May 9-15, which was made May 1, indicates a 60-70 percent chance or probability of above normal temperatures throughout all of Wyoming – with the probability increasing as you move from the northeast to the southwest corner of the state. 

There are roughly equal chances for above, below or near-normal precipitation, with a slight lean towards below-normal precipitation for most of the state.

The forecast for May, made April 30, indicates 40-60 percent probability of above-normal temperatures for all of Wyoming. There is a 33-45 percent probability for above-normal precipitation for the same timeframe for most of the state, with chances on the lower end of this range in the far northwest, northeast and southeast corners of the state. 

To view NOAA’s most recent forecasts visit and select a forecast at 

Ag considerations

I think May is one of the busiest and most exciting months of agriculture in Wyoming – with newborn livestock running around, branding season starting, turnout dates nearing, crops being planted, early-season weed spraying underway and irrigation beginning. 

This said, I encourage each of you to make time to look at the eight- to 14-day forecast, in addition to the daily forecast, to help schedule and prioritize your work activities.

You told us. We listened. Now we’re preparing to deliver.

Ranchers in the Northern Plains region will soon have a new forecast in their toolbox to consider. We are excited to announce the upcoming release of Grass-Cast – a new, innovative grassland productivity forecast. Given the Great Plains’ highly variable weather, it’s hard to know how much grass our rangelands will produce during the summer grazing season. But Grass-Cast will help livestock producers in the Northern Great Plains reduce uncertainty by providing science-informed estimates of grassland productivity.

The first Grass-Cast will be released in mid-May 2018 and will be updated every two weeks. Be the first to know when Grass-Cast is released by visiting the USDA Northern Plains Climate Hub’s (NPCH) website at or follow Dannele Peck on Twitter at @PeckAgEc or the USDA Climate Hubs at @USDAClimateHubs.

This new experimental grassland productivity forecast is the collective effort of a team of rangeland scientists, meteorologists and climate modelers from Colorado State University, USDA Agricultural Research Service Rangeland Resources and Systems Research Unit, National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, the University of Arizona and USDA NPCH.

In closing, remember to plan, monitor, know your alternatives and adapt as needed.

This article was written by UW Extension, WAFERx and USDA Northern Plains Climate Hub Regional Extension Program Coordinator Windy Kelley. She can be reached at or 307-766-2205. The column was reviewed by Wyoming Water Resources Data System Deputy Director Tony Bergantino and Justin Derner of USDA Agricultural Research Service. Dannelle Peck of USDA Northern Plains Climate Hub also reviewed the article.

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