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Worland, ‘Wyoming’s Furnace,’ Finally Hits 90 Degrees; Latest Ever On Record

Jul 05, 2023

Some crops and garden vegetables may be in trouble after an elongated spring brought above-normal precipitation and cooler temperatures to most of Wyoming.

The National Weather Service in Riverton reports several Wyoming locations will hit 90 degrees this week, which is traditionally late for some areas of the Cowboy State.

Riverton National Weather Service meteorologist Geri Swanson said May 30 is the average date for Worland Airport to record its first 90-degree day, and finally reached 90 on Monday, the latest ever for the community. Worland often competes for having the hottest temperature in the state most days during summertime.

Behind Schedule

Jay Richard, a grower in Worland known for growing gargantuan pumpkins, said crop progress in his area is late this year.

"We always see 90s in May," Richard told Cowboy State Daily. "Everything is two to three weeks behind schedule."

A lot of alfalfa in the area between Thermopolis and Winchester that was cut in the last two weeks has been rained on several times, he said.

After alfalfa has been cut by a swather it needs several days to dry out before it can be baled. If it's baled too soon it can internally combust and cause haystack fires. When it gets rained on before it can be compressed into bales it loses its nutrients and overall market value.

Richard said the Worland area is known as “Wyoming's Furnace,” but so far this summer it hasn’t lived up to that reputation.

Once the mercury hits 90, Richard says his pumpkins will gain 20 to 40 pounds a day, and corn will grow a foot or more in a week. Richard's pumpkins are about the size of a 5-gallon bucket cut in half this week and probably weigh about 15 pounds each, he said.

It’s Also Cool To Be Cool

On the flip side, cool season crops like potatoes, onions and carrots are doing well.

"The sugar beets got a real slow start this year, but the rows closed by the Fourth of July, which is about normal," Richard said. "The barley looks amazing this year."

Lander and Riverton set new records for lowest high temperatures on July 4 this year.

Swanson said the earliest 90-degree day on record at the Worland Airport came May 2, 1985.

NWS expects high temperatures in central Wyoming to range from 90 to 95 this week, with a cooling pattern beginning Friday.

Swanson added that temperatures on the west side of the Continental Divide in Wyoming are generally cooler because of higher average elevations.

In late June, Cowboy State Daily Meteorologist Don Day said once soils dry out the mercury will start to climb. Day explained that wet soils act like a swamp cooler for the atmosphere. When the sun comes out in the morning it has to warm up the layers of the atmosphere before temperatures at ground level will get hot.

It appears that Day's interpretation will come true for Wyoming, at least east of the Continental Divide, this week.

John Thompson can be reached at: [email protected]

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