June nearly a record for lack of moisture
By Johanna Love, Jackson Hole, Wyoming
July 5, 2012
June 2012 was one of the driest on record in Jackson Hole.
Last month, only 0.2 inches of precipitation were recorded at a U.S. Forest Service automated station compared to the June average of 1.65 inches, meteorologist Jim Woodmencey said.
“You would have to go all the way back to 1935 to find a drier June in Jackson Hole when only 0.17 inches of rainfall was recorded,” Woodmencey wrote on his MountainWeather.com blog.
Even June 1988, when Yellowstone National Park was ablaze, had more rain, 0.35 inches.
The jet stream is somewhat to blame for our lack of moisture, Woodmencey said, but also for a lack of thunderstorms that could ignite wildfires.
“We’ve been sitting under a dry and stable southwesterly flow,” Woodmencey said.
That weather pattern could change soon, National Weather Service specialist Rich Miller in Riverton said.
“We may have isolated thunderstorms Thursday or Thursday night, and again Friday night into Saturday,” Miller said. “The long-range outlook is for near-normal precipitation. There’s about a 20 percent chance in the forecast for Thursday and Saturday.”
The dry weather is “what everybody talks about,” lately, Miller said. That’s mainly because it has helped elevate fire danger to “very high.”
“The heat, the dry air, and it’s been breezy to windy,” Miller said. “Combine those three things, what they’re worried about is when a thunderstorm comes through — cloud to ground lightning. That’s what normally sets things off.”
Miller said June in Lander also was one of the driest on record with 0.04 inches of precipitation.
Only trace amounts in 1956 and 1971, and 0.03 inch in 2006 were less than 2012.