Milo Knefelkamp swings into a popular swimming hole on Clear Creek in Buffalo on July 2, 2021, as his sister Lacie Knefelkamp relaxes on the bank. The mercury that day crept above 90 degrees Fahrenheit. (Dustin Bleizeffer/WyoFile)

Siblings Milo and Lacie Knefelkamp of Minnesota enjoyed a popular swimming hole on Clear Creek in Buffalo early in July when the mercury crept into the mid-90s. The family visits relatives in Buffalo each year, said their father, Brad Knefelkamp, and they’ve discussed moving to Wyoming. Such a move likely would not require much of an adjustment in terms of seasonal weather, he said.

The water temperature in Clear Creek the day the Knefelkamps visited was 65.8 degrees Fahrenheit — refreshing for swimmers and still cool enough to fish for trout without stressing them, according to local fisherman Zac Sexton, who hooked a couple of brown trout near the Clear Creek swimming hole.

But it’s been a hot summer, and Sexton said he worries about his favorite fisheries. He’s observed stream temperatures getting warmer earlier in the season due to human-driven climate change.

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The Bighorn National Forest issued stage 1 fire restrictions on June 28. On June 15, the high in Buffalo reached a scorching 104 degrees Fahrenheit, the hottest in Buffalo on record for that date, according to the National Weather Service.

“A good amount of the state is in moderate to severe drought, and that has been going on since about last summer,” Cheyenne National Weather Service meteorologist Matthew Brothers said. “The only areas that aren’t considered in drought at the moment are the Cheyenne area and southeast Wyoming.”

The NWS Climate Prediction Center outlook through July calls for above-normal temperatures across most of the state, Brothers said. “So overall continuing this warmer and potentially drier pattern for the next few weeks.”

Dustin Bleizeffer is a Report for America Corps member covering energy and climate at WyoFile. He has worked as a coal miner, an oilfield mechanic, and for 25 years as a statewide reporter and editor primarily...

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