Wyoming: Hot Days, Smoky Skies, and No Relief (For Now)
Written by Andrew-Rossi on September 9, 2021
Can the western U.S. beat the heat? Not according to this week’s forecasts, which means Wyoming will remain hot and wildfires will keep burning.
For most of the summer, the word in the western and northwestern U.S. has been heated. Wyoming and several other states continue to struggle with record-breaking heat and severe drought conditions.
So far this year, Portland, Oregon, has recorded five days with temperatures at 100 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. These temperatures tie 2021 with 1941 and 1977 for the greatest number of days where high temperatures were 100 degrees or higher.
The main issue in Wyoming has been drought. The U.S. Geological Survey records show the majority of Wyoming is either under severe or extreme drought. This includes the entire Bighorn Basin and both Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks.
So, is there any relief this week? Not likely, according to the meteorological website AccuWeather.
“Temperature departures will average 15-25 degrees Fahrenheit above normal in many parts of the West this week,” said AccuWeather Lead Long-Range Senior Meteorologist Paul Pastelok.
The worst of it will be felt in the northwestern states. While it’s unlikely any state will reach triple digits again this year, the average temperature in Oregon and northern California will be 80 degrees and higher on Thursday, Sept. 9.
High temperatures are bad news for states currently fighting wildfires – which means more smoky skies for Wyoming.
Summer 2021 was notorious for persistently smoky days due to wildfires across the West. As of early Monday morning, there were 20 large active fires across Idaho, 17 in Montana, and 13 in Washington, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.
Wyoming only has four active wildfires. These fires are less than 10,000 acres, and most are above 60% containment, like the Crater Ridge Fire in Bighorn National Forest.
Meanwhile, in California, the still-burning, 913,300-acre Dixie Fire has grown into the largest wildfire in state history- larger than the state of Rhode Island. Outside Sacramento, the Caldor Fire is 217,000 acres and growing. Neither fire has reached 60% containment.
Smoke from these and other wildfires – mainly those in Idaho – keeps Wyoming under its perpetual smokescreen. And it seems that the weather will bring no relief in the immediate future.
The National Weather Service office in Riverton has issued an Air Quality Alert for the entire state of Wyoming. People with respiratory illnesses or weak immune systems should avoid prolonged exposure outdoors.