If one lives in Wyoming or the surrounding states, drought is a common word used to describe our weather conditions. The bad part is we seem to talk more about drought than we do normal or high precipitation years.
We do realize now our dry weather is brought on by La Niña conditions in the Pacific Ocean which occur every so often, and weather history has proven a colder Pacific means drought in our region. We’ve been under this La Niña’s grip since spring of 2020, and we are forecasted to be under it until maybe November or December. July may be an exception, as wetter conditions are forecasted.
This tells me drought is almost a normal condition in the region. As we say in this region, “Drought may be always a month away.” Those in agriculture are always planning and doing irrigation and range improvements to lessen the drought impacts, but they never seem to be enough.
We remember the drought just after the turn of the century, when Gov. Geringer hired a state climatologist to help manage the current drought information. It was a great idea and Lord knows the person had job security, as there was a large amount of information to give out on current drought conditions.
Since the person was in a new state position, he was asked to speak around the state a lot. After a while, he started to tell counties and national natural resource agencies what they should do to mitigate drought. In truth, he got political, or so it seemed to those in agriculture.
All his talking alarmed the federal land managers of the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service. They in turn wanted to take livestock off the federal allotments. What they didn’t realize was there was adequate forage to graze in some of these allotments.
The drought that was affecting most of us was a hydrological drought, not a forage drought. There was next to no snowmelt from the mountains that spring and the volume of water in the creeks and rivers for irrigation was very poor. In fact, Boysen Reservoir almost went dry during that year.
The state climatologist getting political didn’t please people. It is almost like he was the Dr. Anthony Fauci of his time.
Recently, Gov. Mark Gordon established a drought website to provide information all in one place. The new website will provide information on drought conditions in Wyoming.
Gordon said, “Our goal in developing this resource is to make relevant and timely information available in a single location. This effort capitalizes on the collaborative partnerships already in place between state and federal agencies and allows us to better communicate program resources.”
This website can be found at drought.wyo.gov and has great information for agriculture, tourism, recreation, municipalities and water utilities to use. It provides a ton of information to assist in managing the current drought, where to look for assistance, resources available, what the natural resource conditions are and what to expect. We appreciate the governor’s efforts.
While La Niña has passed its peak, it is not over just yet. They cycle’s impact on temperatures, rain and snow patterns is set to continue, but as you know, this drought is not our first rodeo. We’ll manage to get through it as we have always done before. Don’t sell your rain gauge to the guy in Kaycee – in time you will need it.