Drought relief unlikely, NWS says

CHEYENNE – The National Weather Service in Cheyenne says residents in eastern Wyoming and the Nebraska Panhandle can expect warmer weather and clear skies for the weekend before heading into a dry winter.

With recent snow, rain and temperatures below freezing moving west, the NWS predicts a warmer weekend with lows in the 40s and 50s and highs in 50s and 60s. Meteorologists do not expect any precipitation until early next week, and not much precipitation at that. As residents have seen in recent weeks, more wind is headed this way with gusts of up to 40 mph in the early weekend.

Meteorologists still see no end in sight to the drought the Wyoming and Nebraska agriculture industry has been struggling with. The United States National Integrated Drought Information System reports parts of eastern Wyoming and the Nebraska Panhandle are currently experiencing extreme drought conditions along with 15.9% of the country, the second driest conditions right below “exceptional drought.”

The United States Climate Prediction Center predicts the drought plaguing Wyoming and Nebraska will persist through at least the next three months.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports drought has ranked third in natural phenomena associated with billion-dollar losses for the United States, right behind tropical cyclones and severe storms. In 2012, for example, the USDA declared more than two-thirds of rural counties in the United States to be disaster areas due to extreme drought in 80% of agricultural land in the country. The losses cost the federal crop insurance program $14.5 billion.

The University of Nebraska’s National Drought Mitigation Center gathers information the government and private citizens who report impacts from drought. It has received reports in the past month of reduced flow from the North Platte River dam in Wyoming and disease in white-tailed deer in eastern Wyoming. It has not received reports of drought impacts in Nebraska for the past month.

With the coming winter, meteorologists at the NWS in Cheyenne also expect drought conditions to remain the same, if not worsen. The frozen ground makes difficult conditions for melting snow to absorb into the ground, meaning soil is likely to stay just as dry if not become drier once winter is over and the snow melts.


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