Dry summer, wet fall in 2006

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Although farmers and ranchers in Moffat County struggled to find hay this fall and wheat crops withered in the fields, the year as a whole ended with more precipitation than normal for Craig residents.

"In 2006 we received 17.18 inches of precipitation," said Graham Roberts, Craig's official weather recorder. "The biggest rains came in September and October, giving us a wetter than normal year."

Roberts, Trapper Mine's environmental health and safety specialist, records Craig's temperatures and precipitation levels each day at 7 a.m. at the mine, located 6.5 miles south of town.

He reports the previous 24-hours high and low temperatures, as well as any precipitation recorded at his weather station to the National Weather Service.

"We get a little more rain here than in town," Roberts said about the Trapper Mine location. "Compared to Craig's average, it was a wet year."

With September receiving 3.49 inches and October coming in at 3.18 inches of rain, the year's average is well above the 13.56-inch average recorded during the 44-year period at the former weather-reporting location downtown.

Precipitation in 2006 also surpassed the 16.35-inch average recorded at Trapper Mine between 1977 and present day readings.

However, when the rain finally did come to Craig, it was too late to save the wheat crop, and it prevented many farmers from getting next year's winter wheat into the ground.

"A lot of them didn't get planted because of the moisture," said Gordon Grandbouche, owner of Craig Grain. "They normally plant in September and October. It's going to make for a tough year next year."

Grandbouche said farmers will plant spring grains when the snow melts, but the crops likely won't produce as well as winter wheat would have.

Roberts said 2005 also was a wet year, with 18.79 inches of precipitation falling in the valley. The precipitation average was reached in 2004 with 13.56 being reported.

Temperatures covered a broad range without breaking any records in 2006.

The highest temperature recorded in Craig during the year was 97 degrees on July 17, with the coldest day of the year hitting on Nov. 30, when the thermometer's mercury plunged, finally bottoming out at 16 degrees below zero.

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