Drought Could Increase Fire Threat in Wyoming, Officials Say

Meteorologists in Wyoming have warned that low levels of precipitation across the state could increase the threat of wildfires over the summer.

Tim Troutman, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Riverton, told the Wyoming Tribune Eagle on Wednesday that the state is experiencing its worst drought since 2012, the same year the state recorded one of its more active wildfire seasons.

In 2012, fires in Wyoming burned 875 square miles and cost the state about $100 million to contain. Officials have said more moisture now can help prevent similar conditions later in the year.

“If we begin to get more moisture into the area, and more snow and rain, that definitely can alleviate conditions,” Troutman said.

It is unclear if the state reached its desired precipitation threshold.

Weather officials have said it snowed less than 4 inches last month in Cheyenne where the average monthly snowfall for January is 5.9 inches. The city also recorded less than half the precipitation it did this time last year.

“That’s definitely indicating we’ve been in this strong La Nina pattern, and it’s definitely continuing,” Troutman said, referring to the weather pattern that has caused the drought in Wyoming and other parts of the U.S. West.