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Drought Impacts and Outlook Summaries - November 2016

View this Summary as a PDF

Highlights for the State

  • Temperatures for both October and November were much warmer than normal.

  • Precipitation since October 1 has been above normal in the western half of the state, and below normal in the eastern half.

  • Drought conditions have improved in the northwest with D1 being removed from Park County. Drought conditions worsened in the south and southeast with D1 being introduced to Carbon, Albany, and Laramie counties.

  • The snowpack has started out well-below normal, with all basins at 25% to 75% of median for late November.
Temperature and Precipitation Anomalies
October was a warm month for Wyoming, with most locations 2°F to 8° above normal, and ranked as the 11th warmest since 1894. The eastern half of the state saw the highest anomalies with the southeastern part being in the 10 warmest Octobers. Climate Division 8 (Lower North Platte) had the 3rd-warmest October in the last 122 years. The western half of the state was a bit cooler but still was in the top third warmest Octobers on record.

November has been even warmer than October relative to normal, with temperatures in most locations 6° to 12° above normal through the 28th of the month. The warmest conditions have been in the northern and eastern parts of the state.

For statewide precipitation, it was the 20th wettest October since 1894. The northwest part of the state was much wetter than the east. Climate Division 2 (Snake River Basin) had the wettest October on record, and Climate Division 1 (far northwest corner of the state) had its 2nd-wettest October. In the east, Climate Division 7 (Niobrara and parts of Converse and Weston counties) had its 23rd driest October of the last 122.

November.s precipitation (through the 28th) has been generally below normal except for a swath running southwest from Sheridan to Sweetwater counties, where precipitation has been 130-200% of normal.


While drought has lessened in intensity and area in northwest Wyoming, the southeastern part has had Abnormally Dry (D0) conditions expand to cover all of Carbon, Albany, Platte, Goshen, and Laramie counties. D0 has also moved into parts of eastern Sweetwater County. Moderate Drought (D1) has entered the state in the southeast and is now covering extreme southwestern Laramie County as well as southern Albany and much of Carbon counties.

In the northwest, D1 has been removed from Park County, and D0 has been removed from Big Horn County and pulled back to the northwest in Park County.

Conditions remain unchanged in the northeastern part of the state.


For the next several months, this section will be showing snow pack conditions for Wyoming.

Snowpack conditions become much more meaningful as the pack builds. Early in the season the median values are much lower, so a small change in the amount of snow water equivalent (SWE) can make a big difference percentage-wise when compared to that median value.

That said, compared to the median SWE for late November, all basins are well below normal. Compared to last year at this time, only the Bighorn and Tongue basins are higher this year.

Snow pack products can be found at: http://www.wrds.uwyo.edu/sitemap.html

Do you have drought impacts to report? We still need your on-the-ground reports and you can input them here: http://droughtreporter.unl.edu/submitreport/

Water Resources
Reservoirs statewide are still in good shape, though with exceptions, such as Palisades in the Snake River Basin (<10% full) and Glendo in the Platte River Basin (<35% full). Streamflows throughout the state are mostly normal to above normal for this time of year with a few scattered exceptions in various locations.

The map below shows streamflow for October 20th compared to the historical average for this date.

Weather and Climate Outlooks
For the next two weeks the chances are greater (better than 50% chance) for below-normal temperatures statewide and for above-normal precipitation in the northern and western parts of Wyoming.

Looking further out, the Dec-Feb period has the odds favoring above-normal temperatures for the southwestern half of Wyoming and better chances for above-normal precipitation for all but the southeastern part of the state. The Jan-Mar period has good chances for above-normal temperature for south-central and southwest Wyoming while precipitation is more likely to be above normal in the north and northwest parts of the state for the same period.

There is less certainty when looking at the Feb-Apr period. This is, in part, a result of the weak La Nina pattern that is in play since Wyoming typically lays at the boundary area of its influence. The temperature outlook for that period thus has Wyoming with even chances of above-normal, below-normal, or normal temperatures. The outlook is for precipitation to be above-normal in the northern parts of the state.

Drought conditions are expected to persist in the northeast and southeast areas of the state into 2017.

Heard around the State
Niobrara County, Nov 10: Dust pneumonia is a real threat as we wean calves, pastures very dry and grasses breaking off as cattle walk on it and fire danger is high.

Weston County, Nov 4: Extremely dry. Livestock and wildlife depending on pipeline and water wells. Very dusty causing respiratory concerns with livestock.

Laramie County, Oct 10: We are feeding more hay (horses) as the pasture growth has ground to a halt. We are also watering the lawn (buffalo grass), which is something we rarely do.


Stay Tuned and In Touch
The next Wyoming Drought Impacts and Outlook Summary will be released around January 12th. If you need information in the meantime, please reach out to any of the partners listed to the right or contact Tony Bergantino directly at Antonius@uwyo.edu

Live in or around the Wind River Indian Reservation? Check out the Wind River Indian Reservation and Surrounding Area Climate and Drought Summary at: http://www.hprcc.unl.edu/pdf/Wind-River-Climate-Drought-Summary_Sep16.pdf