May brought moisture to Wyoming
In contrast to the cooler to near normal temperatures experienced in April, May was the eighth warmest on record in 124 years. In addition, whereas April was on the drier side across the Cowboy State, May was the 23rd wettest on record.
The U.S. Drought Monitor (USDM) map from June 19 shows that most of Wyoming is not in any drought status with the exception of southwest Wyoming. Carbon, Sweetwater, Uinta and Lincoln counties continue to see abnormally dry conditions. Moderate drought conditions are also persisting in western Carbon and eastern Sweetwater counties.
In contrast, several of our neighboring states continue to see substantial portions of their land in moderate to exceptional drought.
For example, nearly 79 percent of Colorado is experiencing at least abnormally dry conditions, of which over 50 percent is severe, extreme or exceptional. You can help inform the USDM by submitting conditions and impacts at droughtreporter.unl.edu/submitreport.View the current USDM maps at weather.gov/riw/drought.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) eight- to 14-day forecast for July 4-10, made June 26, indicates a 40 to 60 percent chance of above-normal temperatures throughout all of Wyoming. The probability increases as we move from the northwest corner to the eastern border of the state.
Below-normal precipitation – a 33 percent probability – is forecasted for the entire state for the same timeframe with a slightly higher probability – 40 percent – in the northwestern corner.
The forecast for July, made June 21, indicates 33 to 40 percent probability of above normal temperatures for the western third of Wyoming – the probability increases as we move from east to west. The July precipitation forecast indicates 33 to 40 percent probability for above average precipitation for most of the southern half of the state.
The rest of the state, including the southeastern corner into eastern Albany County, has an equal chance for above, below and average precipitation.
To view NOAA’s most recent forecasts visit and select a forecast at cpc.ncep.noaa.gov.
Have you considered how clean water affects your herd’s health?
One benefit of livestock accessing clean water, reported by Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC) of Canada, is that calves were on average 18 pounds heavier at weaning than their peers. The resource can be found at bit.ly/2MmzD3N. Eighteen pounds might sound attractive. However, you might be asking yourself, does it make economical sense to invest in or expand your watering system?
The BCRC has a free on-line tool at bit.ly/2KjGrPe to help you work through determining how long it will take for a watering system to pay for itself. The tool has two options – one for cow/calf and the other for yearlings. This is an easy to use tool that compares the installation and maintenance costs for different watering systems, the number of years it will take to pay off the expenses from installing the watering systems and the net benefits – positive or negative – five and seven years post installation.
Mark your calendars
The University of Wyoming (UW) Research and Extension (R&E) Centers field days are June 30 in Sheridan and June 19 in Powell.
To learn more about the field days, visit uwyo.edu/uwexpstn.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.