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Don Day Jr. provides winter weather update at 2023 WAID Conference

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

The Wyoming Association of Irrigation Districts (WAID) held its First Annual Conference at the Ramkota Hotel and Conference Center in Casper Nov. 8-9. The event included open forum discussions, where local Meteorologist Don Day Jr. provided a review of Wyoming’s historical weather patterns and discussed his winter weather forecast.

Day specializes in weather forecasting and analysis for agriculture and is the president and chief meteorologist of DayWeather, Inc., where he and his team of meteorologists provide customized weather services across Wyoming, Colorado and Nebraska, tailored to rural and ag listeners. 

Understanding El Niño and La Niña

“To understand Wyoming’s winter and spring forecast, we have to first understand the climate patterns in the Pacific Ocean,” Day began.

El Niño and La Niña are Pacific Ocean climate patterns influencing weather worldwide.

In normal Pacific Ocean conditions, the trade winds blow west along the equator, taking warm water from South America towards Asia, according to the National Ocean Service (NOS).

NOS describes El Niño and La Niña as opposing climate patterns, breaking normal conditions. Scientists call these phenomena the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) cycle and periods of El Niño and La Niña typically last nine to 12 months and can occur every two to seven years but never on a regular schedule. 

According to NOS, El Niño affects weather significantly, as warmer waters cause the Pacific jet stream to move south of its neutral position. 

This shift in the northern U.S. and Canada creates drier and warmer weather than usual, but in the U.S. Gulf Coast and Southeast, it creates wetter weather.

During a La Niña, trade winds are stronger than normal and push more warm water toward Asia, bringing cold water to the surface.

When cold waters in the Pacific push the jet stream northward, it tends to lead to drought in the southern U.S. and heavy rains in the Pacific Northwest and Canada. 

Day stated, “We are in an El Niño Modoki, which is different from the traditional El Niño because warming occurs mainly in the Central Equatorial Pacific region, rather than the Eastern Pacific region and should peak by January, which is good news for Wyoming.”

Wyoming weather forecast

“We are not in a weak or super El Niño, we are running in the middle,” Day noted.

“During the early parts of the winter season, through the rest of 2023, data suggests a normal to drier-than-normal period for most of the West.”

He added, “With a variety of weather models to utilize, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released their prediction an El Niño is in place heading into winter for the first time in four years, driving the outlook for warmer-than-average temperatures for the northern tier of the continental U.S.”

“South and central Wyoming will more likely see an early winter, and the north and northwest part of the state will be drier until March to May, where they will see spring moisture,” he continued. “We will see good snowpack this year in the spring, and Wyoming will see wide spread moisture.”

Day further explained there is currently a polar vortex forming in the stratosphere over the North Pole, which is expected to strengthen rapidly as the winter of 2023-24 inches closer.”

“A polar vortex is a large area of low pressure and cold air which surrounds the poles and becomes stronger during winter months,” according to NOAA. “As the current polar vortex continues to strengthen this year, it is crucial to be aware of its potential impacts.”

NOAA has also predicted most of Wyoming will have equal chances of seasonal temperatures and precipitation through the end of February.

To stay up-to-date on Wyoming weather, the Climate Prediction Center updates the three-month outlook each month, and the next update came available on Nov. 16.

Melissa Anderson is the editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to

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