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Fri July 23, 2004
Drought Will Stick Around
Cheyenne, Wy – Recent rain may have improved rangeland
and reduced the possibility of wildfires in much of Wyoming, but
State Climatologist Jan Curtis says it is premature to presume that
Wyoming is on its way out of drought.
Curtis told the Governor's Drought Management Task Force that vigilance is still needed.
The drought caused a 565-(M)-million-dollar decrease in
Wyoming's crop and cattle production between 1999 and 2003.
That figure that appears unlikely to improve given how 58
percent of the state's rangeland is in poor shape -- up from 15
percent this time last year. But irrigated crops are doing better,
with most in average to good shape.
Precipitation over the past three years has been just 50 to 70
percent of normal. But Curtis says Wyoming needs 20 to 30 percent
above-normal snowpack by next April -- otherwise reservoirs are
going to fall to critically low levels.