Wyoming has so far had a delightful October with relatively warm weather and sunny skies. That’s about to end.
“The overriding message is the party’s over,” Cowboy State Daily meteorologist Don Day said. “The coldest weather of the season will be upon us soon.”
Rounds One And Two
Day said two weather patterns have Wyoming in their sights this week and will impact different regions at different times, but the results will be the same.
“The first phase of this big change will hit the far western and far northern parts of the state on Wednesday and Thursday,” he said. “Those parts will get the first part of the system. Round One.”
Round One will bring snow and freezing temperatures to Jackson, Cody and the Bighorn Basin starting Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks could get up to 2 inches of snow Wednesday and more than a foot by the time the pattern passes.
Round Two will impact southern and central Wyoming starting Friday night and into the weekend. Those regions will get colder with scattered rain and snow Wednesday and Thursday, but won’t see the same intensity as northern and western Wyoming.
“The parts that get missed with the first one will get the snow and the cold with the second one,” Day said. “When it’s all said and done, the whole state is going to be getting some snow, and everybody’s going to get really, really cold,” he said.
The National Weather Service Office in Riverton anticipates most communities will see a 20- to 30-degree drop in temperatures as the week progresses. Overnight temperatures could go into the teens or single digits.
While every region of Wyoming will get some snow, it might not stick around once the weather patterns pass, Day said. The cold, however, isn’t going anywhere. Anyone trick-or-treating Oct. 31 will want to bundle up.
“The frigid weather is going to stick through Halloween and probably through the middle of next week,” Day said. “Getting lows into the single digits and teens will happen many nights in a row.”
A weather pattern that has played out several times in Fall 2023 is a brief cold snap followed by days or weeks of mild and warm temperatures. That may be the trend, but Day doesn’t anticipate Wyoming bouncing back from this one.
“Most of next week looks cold — well-below-average temperatures,” he said. “And I don’t see the first two weeks of November bringing any significant warmth. This is certainly flipping the pattern into one that will be colder-than-average for a couple of weeks.”
Anytime there’s snow or cold in Wyoming’s weather forecast, there’s a good chance it will travel on the state’s roads and highways. The conditions of this week’s weather will make travel impacts inevitable.
Wyomingites can anticipate adverse weather impacts in the state’s mountain passes — “the usual suspects” of the Togwotee, Powder Riverand Burgess Junction passes — especially Friday morning. But Day also anticipates “problems in the south,” mainly on Interstates 80 and 25, from Friday through Saturday night.
“The road pavements are still going to be warm and holding heat,” Day said. “The first bit of snow melts, but the (freezing) air coming in behind it will make very icy surfaces. This is when we get black ice and bridges getting iced up.”
During any winter storm, most people, including meteorologists, gauge its severity by measuring inches of snow. With the two rounds of weather arriving this week, Day said the snow might not be the best judge, especially regarding travel.
“The inches may not be deep, but the roads could be extremely icy,” he said. “People overemphasize a storm on inches. They’ll say, ‘We only got 3 inches,’ But if those 3 inches comes with the first inch or two melting and freezing on the roads, that can be just as impactful as a foot of snow.”
Day emphasized the importance of the cold temperatures over the snow expected over the next week.
“Don’t focus on how many inches to rate the storm, but these icy conditions and the severe cold that’s coming in behind it,” he said.”
Andrew Rossi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.