Feb 13, 2012 - By Christina George Staff WriterAlthough the month of January in Riverton lacked frigid temperatures and bleak snowfall, weather officials say it's the conditions in the mountain range that matter in determining if the area is in any danger of a possible drought this year.
"January is typically one of our driest months," said National Weather Service meteorologist Kelly Allen. "There is still plenty of snow in the Wind Rivers and plenty of water to add to the basin."
With a snowpack in the Wind River Mountain Range at 86 percent of normal, Allen said there is still sufficient time to add moisture.
"Usually by March we will get a couple of snowstorms with high water content," she said.
"When that snowpack melts, that is what goes into our reservoirs, our irrigation systems and our rivers," she said. "That is what we really rely on."
The first month of 2012 in Riverton experienced abnormal weather conditions with a combination of record-breaking temperatures and lack of precipitation.
In a monthly report of data compiled by the NWS, there were three days last month that saw temperatures exceed or tie with previous records set in Riverton since the construction of the new NWS office in 1996.
The first such day occurred Jan. 3, with a 49-degree high, tying with the previous record set in 2003 for the date, Allen said, using the 1996 benchmark. (A published record book lists the record for the date as 52 in 1997.)
On Jan. 21, temperatures reached 48 degrees, which tied with the 2005 record at the new office, and the 47 degrees reported Jan. 29 set a new record for that day, surpassing the former 43-degree record set last year. All-time records for the date before the new office opened arre 58 on Jan. 21 (1909) and 57 for Jan. 29 (1971).
The warmest day of the month was Jan. 25 with a record-tying high of 55 degrees, equaling the 1970 record.
The highest temperature ever recorded in Riverton during January was 63 degrees on Jan. 10, 1953.
The coldest day of the month was the Jan. 17, with a reading of minus 1. No record lows were set, or even approached, in January. Riverton's all-time coldest January temperature was -46 on Jan. 17, 1930.
The average temperature for the entire month of January was 27.2 degrees, which the NWS reported was 7.3 degrees above normal.
Snowfall occurred one day last month, with .3 inch reported Jan. 24.
Total precipitation was .06 inch, which was 75 percent below normal. The wettest day of the month was Jan. 25 with .03 inch.
The county seat also experienced much warmer weather than normally seen in January.
According to the NWS, the average temperature in Lander last month was 27.6 degrees, which was 5.9 degrees above the norm.
With a 52-degree high, Jan. 19 was the warmest day of the month.
The coolest days were Jan. 11 and Jan. 17 with temperatures dipping down to minus-5 degrees.
Unlike Riverton, Lander saw typical precipitation amounts. The weather station's report said the .44 inches recorded was 7 percent above normal. Nearly half of the total, .21 inches, dropped Jan. 11 in the form of 4 inches of snow.
Snowfall for the entire month reached 8.3 inches, which was 9 percent above normal.
February has already started out with above-normal temperatures and drier conditions in the Riverton area.
The second month of the year generally begins with high temperatures averaging 32 degrees and low temperatures at 10 degrees. By the end of the month, the highs rise to around 40 degrees, and the lows are around 17 degrees.
As of Tuesday morning, the month's high temperatures average 35.3 degrees, with an average low of 15.5 degrees.
Precipitation is usually around the .28-inch mark, with roughly 6.9 inches of snow.
As of Tuesday, there had been .1 inch of snowfall recorded in Riverton and .01 inch of precipitation.
The average high temperature in the first part of February in Lander is 31 degrees, and the low is around 8 degrees. By the end of the month, the average high warms to 34 degrees, and the low is around 10 degrees.
Lander's average high temperature for the month was at 33.2 degrees as of Tuesday, and the low was 14.5 degrees.
Normally, Lander's precipitation in February is around .52 inches, with 9.9 inches of snowfall.
Two recent snowstorms already have added 7.5 inches of snow toward the month's total, resulting in .25 inch of precipitation. The most, 4.9 inches, fell Thursday.
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