Wyoming's drought is 'extreme'

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Wyoming's drought is 'extreme'

Associated Press

RAWLINS, Wyo.  Most of Wyoming is in an "extreme drought," according to the National Climatic Data Center.

The worst conditions are in the southern half of the state, said Sam McCown, a meteorologist and climatologist with the center.

Drought conditions exist in Colorado, though no area is listed as experiencing "extreme" drought.

The heat and dryness across the nation have led to wildfires consuming about 6.6 million acres through Sept. 5, more than 220 percent of the 10-year average, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

More than 3.1 million of the acres burned in the northern Rockies and Great Basin.

On the Palmer Index, a measure of how much an area's climate differs from long-term averages, most of Wyoming measures a minus 4, which is considered an extreme drought, McCown said.

The index takes into account the amount of moisture over several years, when it was received, average temperatures, and soil and vegetation types and conditions.

The lowest value on the index is a minus 8, which has not been seen since the Dust Bowl of the 1930s.

According to a map by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Climate Prediction Center, the entire southern half of Wyoming, along with the Wind and Big Horn river basins and the northeast corner of the state, are shown as minus 4 or less.

The Powder River Basin of northeast Wyoming is shown as minus 3, or severe drought. The Teton Range is shown as minus 2, which is moderate drought.

The only portion of the state near normal is the Yellowstone area.

Wyoming is one of 17 states across the nation with such extreme conditions.

September 10, 2000


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), September 11, 2000

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