Many holidays in Wyoming have been decidedly unseasonable in 2023. The peak of summer on Independence Day felt like a spring day in Seattle, while Halloween brought subzero temperatures and more snow than scares.
When the Cowboy State sits down to Thanksgiving dinner next week, that trend could continue with unusually warm and sunny weather that’s been around throughout November so far. It also could be a cold, snowy preview of the upcoming Christmas season.
Cowboy State Daily meteorologist Don Day believes that people who keep an eye on the forecast next week will be the most thankful on Thanksgiving. Because that day or the next, Wyoming is due for its next blast of winter weather.
A Fine Fall
Day said he hopes all Wyomingites have been enjoying the warm weather so far this fall. After the subzero spell in late October, the first weeks of November have been the best fall has to offer.
“We’ve had some winter-like events this fall, but they’ve been brief,” he said. “I think we’ve been fortunate in the way the weather patterns across North America have unfolded this fall. It’s been great.”
Day also said that if the weather’s good in one place, it’s probably bad somewhere else. While Wyoming stayed warm and mild, an intense blizzard settled in over Alaska and dumped plenty of snow.
This week should be more the same across the state, but Day said the days shorts-wearing weather are coming to an end.
“Starting this weekend, that’s all about to change,” he said. “The odds of this extended mild and dry pattern going much further? We’re not going to see that.”
Another winter event will hit Wyoming on Sunday. Day said many people won’t notice a significant change in their communities, but they’ll definitely feel a drop in temperature.
“Change is coming with colder temperatures Sunday and Monday,” he said. “There’s going to be a little bit of snow, most of it in the high country, but it’s not going to be a major event.”
The big change will be toward the end of that week. On Thanksgiving Day or Friday, Day said temperatures “will get quite a bit colder” and start a winter weather pattern that will persist into December.
“It’s too far out for timing, but that’s when Wyoming will see much colder air spill in,” he said. “Much more of a winter weather pattern. (We’re) going to have some snow chances, but I can’t tell you how much.”
Day said everyone should anticipate winter weather and its impacts on Thanksgiving, especially if they’re traveling. The same weather pattern will impact the Central and Western United States.
If the snow and cold don’t arrive on Thanksgiving, it will Friday.
“The first round coming Sunday and Monday doesn’t look like much. But the snow coming on Thursday and Friday? I can’t tell you if it’s a lot or a little,” Day said. “People need to monitor the forecasts because I think we will have winter weather on the backside of Thanksgiving week. There will be impacts, but I can’t tell you if they’ll be big impacts or not.”
Will Wyoming Make Up Its Mind?
With another winter weather system incoming, that means the end of the 60-degree days this year, right? Not necessarily, as Day said. These erratic changes are somewhat expected given Wyoming’s high elevation in the United States.
“In this part of the world, with our high altitude, you don’t tend to stay in the bitter cold all winter as you would in the Dakotas, the Upper Plains or the Midwest,” he said.
Day said those regions are at much lower elevations, which means winter weather patterns from Canada, like the ones forecasted for the next two weekends, settle in and stick around. Wyoming doesn’t have the same problem since it sits much higher than some of its neighbors.
“When we do have artic outbreaks, they’ve got to be deep enough vertically to hold in Wyoming’s basins and higher mountain ranges. The Arctic air sometimes comes in, but isn’t deep enough to stay. That’s when it flows into the Great Plains and Upper Midwest,” he said.
Day’s point is that Wyoming is taking a turn into the cold weather of winter next week, but won’t be consistently bitterly cold, at least not yet.
“We’ll have some ups and downs,” he said. “But the ups won’t be as long-lasting, nor as nice as they’ve been.”
A Football Forecast
In addition to the traditions of turkey, fixings the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and watching the perennial performances of the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys, many Americans play friendly football games of their own on Thanksgiving. Day said he comes from a family with that backyard football tradition.
Regarding a football forecast, Day still can’t say exactly when the winter weather will hit Wyoming. But for families still deciding when to hit the gridiron, they may thank themselves for doing it on Thanksgiving.
“If you wait for your football game to be on Friday or the weekend, odds are you’re going to have a very cold football game,” he said.