Fire Threats High as Wyoming Winds Return; Severe Storms also Possible
June 10th, 2021
The heat wave continues across the Cowboy State as the second week of June gets ready to finish up. The new drought monitor has been released, and we are continuing to see a reversal of the trend we saw through the month of May which brought much needed relief to the state ahead of wildfire season. Now with the turn of the month rain has overall be hard to come by with the exception of a wave of strong storms that impacted Cheyenne Tuesday evening. Fire threats are now the highest they have been this summer as powerful winds are expected to return with a cold front. That same cold front will bring the potential for severe storms in the northeastern corner of the state.
Sustained wind speeds this afternoon are expected to be over 30 mph with gusts potentially over 50 mph, though for the most part will remain between the 40 mph and 50 mph range. This will be a hot and dry wind from the south-southwest, so partaking in activities outdoors that involve burning is not a good idea: that is if you can even get a fire to start. Drought conditions in Central Wyoming are the same as last week with the new monitor, however the Big Horn Basin has seen a return to D1 Moderate Drought with the northeastern corner of the state back to D3 Severe Drought. This is primarily in Campbell County and includes Gillette. The worsening drought conditions combined with the powerful dry winds from the south-southwest are leading to a critical risk for wildfires in Central Wyoming. The Level 2 “Critical” risk includes Casper, Rawlins, Worland, Riverton, and Buffalo while Douglas, Laramie, and Sheridan are in the Level 1 “Elevated” threat zone. This should relax tomorrow once the cold front passes and temperatures drop from the upper 80s and 90s back to the upper 70s and lower 80s.
The severe weather threat luckily is small in Wyoming in terms of area, though the Nebraska Panhandle is seeing a decent risk this evening and into tonight as well. A Level 3 “Enhanced” Risk is in place for parts of the Panhandle. This is where the tornado threat is the highest thanks to south-southeast surface winds and stronger southwest winds aloft, allowing for more rotation. As for Wyoming, there is a Level 2 “Slight” risk for Crook, Weston, Niobrara, and a sliver of Goshen Counties. The primary risks include strong wind gusts and hail, but an isolated tornado cannot be ruled out. Cheyenne itself is not in a severe weather risk zone and could entirely miss out on seeing rain later today. The powerful winds mentioned above however will shift direction during the evening hours from the southwest to the west, and as they do so will move into Southeast Wyoming and the Nebraska Panhandle as the cold front marches through. Once this change occurs with the wind, the severe weather threat will be gone with regards to hail, but wind gusts over 50 mph could be possible in the Capital City overnight.
Friday will be a very pleasant day with sunny skies overhead and high temperatures in the upper 70s and lower 80s. The wind will overall be a lot calmer, though breezes over 20 mph are expected to hang around from the west-southwest in the middle of the state for cities like Casper. Cheyenne will see wind coming from the south at around 20 mph if not a bit under, which will begin to bring in more warm air before another rapid warmup over the weekend.
CHEYENNE, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) -
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