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As the Severe Weather Threat Drops the Fire Weather Threat Returns

July 23rd, 2020
Published: Jul. 23, 2020 at 12:02 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 23, 2020 at 2:35 PM CDT
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After a cloudy start to the day for a handful of us the sunshine is making a return during the early afternoon hours; once again bringing plenty of summer heat to the Cowboy State. Rain chances will ramp up again during the late afternoon/evening hours, especially for the southeastern portion of Wyoming. These storms are likely to be scattered and small and the severe weather risk with them is negligible. Breezy conditions are expected this afternoon in the central region of the state, primarily coming from the west southwest at approximately 20-25 mph with gusts over 30 mph expected. The region that is likely to see these breezy conditions is also unlikely to see the rain chances that the southeastern part of the state will see. This has led to an elevated fire risk for much of Central Wyoming as well as the southwestern part of the state. The National Weather Service (NWS) has issued a Red Flag Warning until 8PM tonight for Westin, Niobrara, Converse, and southern Campbell Counties. Despite these four counties being the only ones with a fire weather warning, places such as Casper, Riverton, and Rawlins do have an elevated risk for fire today due to the high heat and breezy conditions as well as a very small chance of rain for today.

On the note of dry conditions, the newest drought monitor was released at 6:30 AM this morning and the conditions across the state have worsened. While Cheyenne remains under level 1 “Abnormally Dry” drought conditions, Scottsbluff Nebraska is now under a level 2 “Moderate” drought, while Riverton has joined Casper and Lusk in the level 3 “Severe” drought. Eastern Sheridan County along with the far northern portion of Johnson County are now under a level 4 “Extreme” drought, the worst level currently in Wyoming. The bad news is that these places are not seeing an uptick in rain chances, even with an expected cold front this weekend that will provide yet another break in the heat. The lack of rain overall in Wyoming this summer can be credited to a weather phenomenon called “La Niña”, which during the summer months typically results in hot and dry summers for the western half of the US while also increasing activity in the Atlantic Basin for hurricane season for the east coast. These high drought conditions combined with some strong breezes have escalated the fire weather risk for much of the state. Cheyenne’s next best chance for rain will be Friday and then again on Sunday, while the best opportunity for Casper looks like Sunday afternoon (with a lower chance than Cheyenne) following the passing of a cold front late Saturday.

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) -

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