Bill Sniffin: Wyoming Has 20 Seasons Or More

Publisher Bill Sniffin writes: like to divide our different weather cycles into 20 different seasons. I am not the first to do this, but after a lot of thought and half century of experience, these 20 seasons seem to make the most sense.

Bill Sniffin

November 09, 20214 min read

Sniffin 1
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

By Bill Sniffin, publisher

Recently we have been enjoying one of Wyoming’s more pleasant seasons, a time known as Indian Summer. 

Temperatures have been in the 60s and there is very little snow to be found.

Although the wind blows through Wyoming like a cyclone during this time, the roads are usually dry. That is one of the big secrets about the Cowboy State – our roads in the winter are almost always open and almost always dry. 

We give big kudos to the Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT) for hard working employees and good systems in place. 

Note: On the best innovations in recent years are those digital message boards across the state foretelling what kind of weather you can find ahead of you.  I also think weather forecasting has become an exact science these days.  If it says it’s going to snow six inches, you can pretty much expect a half foot of the white stuff. 

Of course, I listen to Ace Weatherman Don Day for most of my forecasts but using the various forecasting sites on the internet seem to be accurate, too.

I like to divide our different weather cycles into 20 different seasons. I am not the first to do this, but after a lot of thought and half century of experience, these 20 seasons seem to make the most sense. Here is my list of annual Wyoming seasons, starting with now: 

  1. Indian summer
  2. Early winter – early snow
  3. Near winter
  4. Winter
  5. Dark winter
  6. Arctic Freeze
  7. January thaw
  8. Third winter
  9. Spring of Deception
  10. Semi-Truck leaning season
  11. Sprinter
  12. Actual spring (lasts about two days)
  13. Torrential downpour season
  14. Construction season
  15. Cheyenne Frontier Days Hail Season
  16. Hot summer
  17. Blue sky drought season
  18. Cool summer
  19. Fake Fall
  20. Real Fall

Both in the movie business and the book business, there is the concept of “false ending,” where you as the viewer or reader think the story is over. Not so. Later the ultimate ending arrives. Just about every movie or book uses this device.  

This also applies to Wyoming’s weather during this time of year.

As part of our recent travels during this wet and crazy fall, I heard an expression by a weather reporter, who kept referring to their all-time record cold weather as coming after they had had a “false” Autumn. 

I like that term for fall. I used to describe Wyoming’s four seasons as: almost winter, winter, still winter and construction. But then I realized it is more complicated than this. 

Despite the pandemic in 2020, we had scheduled an extended motorhome trip crossing the southwest part of the USA from Las Vegas to Flagstaff to Albuquerque to Santa Fe to Oklahoma City and onto Dallas. The trip worked out well and we saw many relatives and friends. But this wacky weather was not limited just to Wyoming. Flagstaff had blizzards. Dallas had hail and near freezing temps. Golf ball-sized hailstones pummeled the car I tow behind our RV.

At one point in the spring of that year we were stranded in Cheyenne, spending the night in our motorhome at the Terry Bison Ranch RV Park. It sure was windy. This was during the season I call Semi-Truck Leaning Season.

Three semi-trucks and a camper were on their sides just south of Cheyenne as the winds roared 75 mph for a direct hit on high profile vehicles on Interstate 25. Some reports said 88 mph gusts were blowing over these rigs on Wyoming Hill. More than a dozen rigs were over tuned statewide.

Blizzards and rainstorms are troublesome issues for me when driving a 13-foot high motorhome, but crosswinds are the biggest hazard.  It is just too dangerous. We are at a time in our lives where we would rather wait a day than “have to” get somewhere.

I really like the Wyoming Department of Transportation weather forecast maps, which showed most roads “green” on this day, which would normally be welcomed. But not when driving a vehicle that is quite susceptible to toppling over.

We always need to keep in mind that Wyoming is the windiest state in the country. A Prius works much better than a motorhome on a typical day. 

Maybe there are more than 20 seasons. If so please let me know so I can get the word out. 

Also keep in mind, that Wyoming people drive more miles per year than people in any other state, so be cautious.  

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Bill Sniffin

Wyoming Life Columnist

Columnist, author, and journalist Bill Sniffin writes about Wyoming life on Cowboy State Daily -- the state's most-read news publication.