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Central Wyoming Under Red Flag Fire Warning Until Wednesday

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Central Wyoming, particularly Natrona County, is under a red flag warning for fires for the first half of the week.

The National Weather Service in Riverton issued the warning on Monday morning, and it will be in effect until 8 p.m. Wednesday.

A red flag warning means that critical fire weather conditions either are occurring or will shortly. A combination of winds, low relative humidity and warm temperatures can contribute to this type of fire condition.

The NWS in Riverton predicted humidity as low as 10% in the central part of the state, with temperature highs in the mid to upper 90s on Tuesday and upper 80s on Wednesday. Wind gusts could reach 40 miles per hour.

The NWS provided tips on what to do during a red flag warning, which inclulded:

  • If you are allowed to burn in your area, all burn barrels must be covered with a weighted metal cover, with holes no larger than 3/4 of an inch;
  • Don’t throw cigarettes or matches out of a moving vehicle. They could ignite dry grass on the side of the road and become a wildfire;
  • Extinguish all outdoor fires properly. Drown fires with plenty of water and stir to make sure everything is cold to the touch. Dunk charcoal in water until cold. Don’t throw live charcoal on the ground and leave it;
  • Never leave a fire unattended, since sparks or embers can blow into leaves or grass, ignite and fire and quickly spread;

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Wyoming Among Top States Where Fatal Lightning Strikes Occur

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming is among the top 10 states where fatal lightning strikes occur, according to the National Weather Service.

In a graphic posted to the NWS Cheyenne’s Facebook page kicking off Lightning Awareness Safety Week, it showed that Wyoming, Colorado and eight other states across the country had the most lightning strike fatalities over the last decade.

Meteorologist Don Day told Cowboy State Daily that Wyoming is such a target for lightning for a few reasons.

“We live in a place with a high frequency of thunderstorms,” he explained. “Also, Wyoming has such wide open spaces and there are miles and miles with no trees. In a lot of situations, you’re the highest point and lightning has an easier time finding you.”

Wyoming’s peak thunderstorm season is from June to August, although storms usually start in March and end around October.

Since people recreate outdoors so frequently in Wyoming, fatal lightning strikes can happen while someone is hiking, climbing or walking along a ridge.

According to NWS, around 23 million cloud-to-ground lightning strikes occur every year in the United States, with approximately 290,000 of them occurring in Wyoming.

From 1984 to 2013, the U.S. averaged 51 lightning fatalities per year. Only around 10% of the people struck by lightning are killed, but the other 90% must cope with varying degrees of discomfort and disability, sometimes for the rest of their lives.

From 1959 to 2012, Wyoming was considered the first in the country in the number of lightning deaths and injuries per capita. Since 1995, all of the lightning fatalities in Wyoming have occurred in the mountains.

In Wyoming, lightning is responsible for more deaths and injuries than any other thunderstorm phenomena. From 1996 to 2013, lightning was attributed to eight fatalities and 70 injuries across the state.

Day noted that if anyone is looking to hike throughout the peak storm season, they should start early and wrap up their journey around noon or 1 p.m., since afternoons and evenings are usually when Wyoming’s storms develop.

Golfers should abide by similar guidelines and make note of lightning shelters at their local golf course.

Boaters should get back onto shore as quickly as possible when they begin to hear thunder and seek shelter immediately.

“The best course of action is to avoid situations where the risk of a lightning strike goes up,” Day said. “Lightning can defy logic. It’s crazy, it can do some amazing things. But these lightning strikes happen more often than you think and it’s a dangerous part of living out here.”

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Snow in Mid-June? Yellowstone Expecting Snow on Wednesday

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You know that snowstorm that Laramie had last week? Yellowstone heard about it and said “Hold my beer and watch this.”

Mother Nature continues to ignore the calendar as another cold front heads toward Wyoming, producing what Wyoming meteorologist Don Day calls a “schizophrenic week”.

“It is a week of contrasts,” Day said. “We are going to see what is likely going to be a windy and warm pattern and at the same time a cooler wet one depending on where you are in the Cowboy State.”

Day, acting like John Madden with his own telestrator pencil, highlighted areas in Wyoming that could receive snow on Wednesday. And it’s not just limited to Yellowstone.

“The colder wet weather is going to bring snow to Yellowstone National Park, the Wind River Mountains, and possibly the Big Horns,” Day said.

As for the amount, current forecasts are less than an inch. But in a year of pandemics, murder hornets, and asteroids — all bets are off.

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Laramie Gets Hit by Largest Spring Snowstorm Since 1974

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Folks living in Laramie woke up to winter on Tuesday morning.

Wyoming meteorologist Don Day said the college town received between six and 10 inches of snow last night resulting in significant tree damage in the area.

“Laramie is the hardest hit,” Day said. “There are reports of a lot of tree damage because of the heavy wet snow.  It has caused some power outages as well.”

Although late spring snowstorms are common in many parts of Wyoming, there hasn’t been a snowstorm like this in Laramie since 1974. 

Interestingly, it happened on the same exact days.

“Back in 1974, Laramie got six inches of snow the night of June 8 and another couple inches the morning of June 9.”

“Snow events in June aren’t that unusual,” Day said. “But this is the biggest snow event in Laramie in the last 46 years.”

Day said the winter-like weather has some benefit for Wyoming as there were many areas that needed the moisture.

Earlier this month, the National Interagency Fire Center said fire potential in the Northern Rockies is predicted to be above normal.

Despite the wintry blast, things should be back to normal in a couple days, Day said.

“By Thursday and Friday, you are going to forget what’s happened here over the last 24 hours,” he said. “Summer patterns will happen again starting Thursday and into the weekend.  We’ll see consistently warm temperatures and late day thunderstorms.”

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Hey Wyoming: Get Ready For More Snow

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The year 2020 continues to be eventful. Pandemic, murder hornets, asteroids, and now snow in June.

Even though we are nearly one-third of the way through June, Mother Nature doesn’t care about our calendar system.

It snowed on Sunday in western Wyoming and many parts of Wyoming will get more snow Monday night and into Tuesday morning, according to weather forecasters.

Wyoming meteorologist Don Day said the heaviest snow will occur (not surprisingly) near Laramie.

“It’s going to snow in Laramie tonight. It will snow on the summit between Laramie and Cheyenne. It will snow between Rawlins and Laramie — around Arlington and Elk Mountain,” Day said.

“I would not be surprised if we receive several inches of snow on I-80 between Laramie and Cheyenne,” he said.  “Also expect snow throughout the southern mountains of Wyoming including the Sierra Madres, the Snowy Range, and the Laramie Range down to 7,000 feet.”

That’s not the only place it will snow.  Western Wyoming will get hit again.  The National Weather Service is predicting 1 to 3 inches of snow above 9,000 feet in western Wyoming and 2 to 4 inches above 9,000 feet in the Tetons.

Sublette County Emergency Management offered some hope.

“The high June sun angle will likely melt a lot of the snow on the road surfaces,” they posted.

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Weather Service Says Tornado May Toppled Trees for 500 Yards in Snowy Range

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The National Weather Service is investigating damage from a possible tornado that occurred over the weekend in the Snowy Range.

According to a Facebook post, NWS received reports and photos of around 500 yards of downed trees in the area near Turpin Reservoir and Bow River Campground. This damage occurred during thunderstorms on Saturday.

“We have sent a team out to the Snowy Range today (June 8th) to survey damage from a possible tornado near Turpin Reservoir and Bow River Campground from Saturday’s storms,” the weather service said.

“Still uncertain if this damage was due to straight line winds or a brief tornado, but that is exactly what the survey team will be assessing today,” the post read.

Wyoming meteorologist Don Day said wind gusts of 80 and even 90 mph caused tree damage in many areas of the state.

“It was a wild weekend of wind,” Day said.  “The wind was awful. There are reports of damage over a wide area.”

“There was extensive tree damage in the Savery, Baggs, Dixon area. Lots of tree damage in Torrington too,” he said.

The possible tornado passed through the area around 3 p.m. Saturday. NWS is encouraging anyone with photos of damage from the area to submit them.

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Stormchaser Reed Timmer Streaming Severe Weather, Funnel Clouds in Wyoming

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LIVE on supercell west of Glendo WY

Posted by Reed Timmer Extreme Meteorologist on Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Well-known stormchaser Reed Timmer is in eastern Wyoming today with his eye on the sky watching for severe weather.

Timmer is using Facebook Live to stream what he sees and if you can stand the occasional foul language, it’s great to watch.

“Wow, look at that f*#king thing churn,” Timmer said while pulled over near Glendo.

So far Timmer has provided reports from Douglas, Glendo, and Wheatland.

Well-versed in social media, he has been tweeting simultaneously with his Facebook Live video.

“BIG-TIME plume or deeper moisture is pumping into southeast WY from the NE Panhandle into the #tornado target area for this afternoon/evening. Dominator van in position for intercept,” he tweeted earlier today.

Later he tweeted video of supercell activity over Douglas and Wheatland.

Viewers of Timmer’s live-stream might recall the movie “Twister” where a band of competing storm chasers battled to get the best footage of the storm.

Timmer’s live coverage was available here. When he is able to live-stream again, we will update the link.

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Don Day: Get Ready For Wild, Severe Weather in Eastern Wyoming on Wednesday

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Winds coming from the south will interact with some upper-level winds coming in from the west, causing severe weather for parts of the state’s eastern half, according to a Wyoming meteorologist.

Meteorologist Don Day said in his Tuesday forecast that it’s going to be a “wild [Wednesday] afternoon and evening” for people in Cheyenne, Torrington, Gillette and the rest of eastern Wyoming.

He sourced his information from the Storm Prediction Center, showing that much of eastern Wyoming was at an “enhanced” risk for severe weather, including possible tornadoes and hail.

“Their job, all day and all night, is to find out where the highest risk of severe weather is going to be, especially severe thunderstorms and tornadoes,” Day explained. “They identify areas of risk.”

There are three levels of risk: marginal, slight and enhanced, and most of Wyoming fell into the latter category.

Day noted that the SPC’s use of “enhanced risk” is fairly rare, driving home the point that the severe weather on Wednesday was something to take seriously.

“This is one of those ‘Katie, bar the door’ situations,'” Day said. “There’s going to be a lot of spin in the atmosphere which leads to strong updrafts.”

“Strong updrafts lead to tornadoes, hail, and a lot of heavy rain. It’s going to be a wild,” he said.

The National Weather Service in Cheyenne also posted a severe weather outlook to its Twitter account, showing that golf ball-sized hail was possible Wednesday, as well as tornadoes. Local heavy rainfall may result in flash flooding.

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Don Day: Say Goodbye to Purple Monster and Hello to Warmer Weather

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The following is a rushed transcript of Don Day’s Wyoming forecast for Thursday, April 16. For best results, watch the video.

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It feels like January 16, not April 16 out there.

Better weather is coming. The current storm system willl continue to bring snow and unseasonable cold conditions throughout a good part of the day.  But I think by early to mid afternoon, I think we’ll see the snow really come to a quick end on the plains although it will continue in the high country.

Possible record cold in many areas tonight. We are looking at lows in record territory.

This storm has brought a lot of cold and snow back into the region. We are getting reports of two feet of snow or more in the mountains of southern Wyoming. 

Temperatures are going to moderate some by Friday and through the weekend.

18 inches of snow in Lander (Bill Sniffin photo)

Better weather is coming. It’s going to be more mild but not necessarily a dry pattern. I do see opportunities for more precipitation coming but the good news is that the severe cold — at least for now — is going to ease starting tomorrow and moreso by the weekend.

This is where we are right now. Here is that low we’ve been watching all week. It’s come in about as expected bringing the snow and the cold but it will head off to the east allowing a bit of a change in the weather pattern.

By Sunday, we’ll see more of a westerly flow from the Pacific. We still have a Gulf of Alaska ridge but it is not as strong.

So a more mild air flow.

As we look ahead we do see that the temperatures just get off the charts tonight and tomorrow. These are temperatures relative to average for later today.

You can see a lot of purple. Yesterday, I had several questions about the purple monster. This is the purple monster that we were talking about — the severe cold.

It’s not this purple monster but Barney was my inspiration.  Notice the color of Barney very close to the color of the severe cold showing up on the weather charts here.

We can say goodbye to Barney and the purple monster and warmer temperatures are heading our way. 

Look at all the yellow and orange.  We will see the temperatures get a little bit warmer than normal.

We do see some better days coming — not as severely cold.

You can see that with the upper level charts. This is by Tuesday morning. High pressure not nearly as strong in the Gulf of Alaska. This big low is pushing and trying to erase that.

We have this little guy in California that’s going to come our way. This is why we are saying it will be more mild but not necessarily dry.

This low will produce instability and moisture that could bring us some good old fashioned shower activity next week. At least it will be mild.

By late next week and next weekend, here’s our next troublemaker.

We have another low coming in from the Great Basin. This system needs to be watched. Right now, I’ll give it a question mark. 

But if we were to talk about the next larger storm, it will be late next week or the weekend of the 25th or the 26th with another low coming in behind it.

What we’re seeing though is notice this blue area here. It is smaller. We are seeing the polar vortex kind of losing steam as we get to late April into early May which is what we would expect.

That should mean not as much cold air getting cut loose. But at the same time, with these systems coming through, precipitation chances are going to remain fairly frequent.

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Don Day: Wyo is “Plagued By Big Purple Monster of Cold Air” as Storm Approaches

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The following is a rushed transcript of Don Day’s Wyoming weather forecast. For best results, watch the above video.

Winter Storm will be moving thru and then improving weather is coming.

We will have periods of moderate to heavy snow for many areas of southern Wyoming.  

Confidence is very high. We’ve seen this pattern dozens of times and it is one of those patterns that makes it snow and the confidence is high.

Temperatures will moderate some by Friday and then into the weekend. So there are some better days ahead.

It’s not going to get real warm but it’s going to get warmer than it is right now and more spring-like.

Heads up travelers and stockgrowers. Be prepared for the next 48 hours. We’ve got stressful livestock conditions coming.  Be prepared for winter conditions thru early Friday.

Here is the updated precipitation forecast for Wyoming. You can see that it is a forecast that basically looks the same as I’ve shown you for the last several days.

The east/west trending area of heavier precipitation. We have that really strong jet stream wind that’s coming over and on top of a Canadian cold front that is going to back up against the mountains.

Then Pacific moisture is coming in from Washington and Oregon. So basically, we have three things. Good moisture, strong upper level jet stream winds, and a surge of Canadian air.

Also, we’ve got upslope winds coming underneath. This is one of the situations where the surface winds are coming in upslope from the northeast.

But the upper level jet stream winds are coming in from the west /northwest. So they are coming in from opposite directions and that adds lift to the atmosphere. That is one reason why we are so confident that what you see here will transpire.

You can see that the I-25 corridor — Wyoming into the front range of Colorado — is under the gun for significant snow. And then Interstate 80 from southwest Nebraska and southern Wyoming all the way to Evanston.

You can see the Sno-Chi-Minh trail — Rawlins to Laramie and then Laramie to Cheyenne is going to be hit pretty hard with significant snow. And since temperatures are so cold so the roads are going to be much worse with this storm when compared to the last one.

Snowfall totals.  If we were to use a 10-1 ratio, it would look like this. You can see a lot areas are over six inches. You can see the pink. Over a foot of snow.

Because temperatures are going to be colder, this could be under-forecasted in the snow amounts.

If we use another snow forecasting tool called Cuchera, you can see that with the air colder, the snow amounts could be a little heavier.

You see in the southern mountains over 20 inches, that probably is going to take place.

Be ready for the return of winter weather conditions. By tomorrow, these are our temperatures relative to normal.

You can see plagued by this big purple monster of unseasonably cold air banked up against the front range and the continental divide.

As we go forward, things look better.

Purple monster goes away and we get some orange and yellow on the map. We start to see near average temperatures return by the middle of next week.

So it’s not all bad news.

Just to give you an example of the jet stream pattern. We’ve mentioned this over the last week or so. This is something we would normally see in mid-winter.

There is a huge trough coming in the United States and it isn’t just us, everybody in this area here across Canada and the US is experiencing very cold April weather.

By Sunday, we still have a west coast ridge but it’s not going all the way up into Alaska and the flow of air into Wyoming is more from here. More from the coastal areas of Washington, Oregon, and northern California so that means the air will be more mild.

Going out further, by next Thursday the flow is more westerly. More directed toward central and southern California which means it will get more mild.

We showed you this yesterday, there is now a trough in the Gulf of Alaska instead of a ridge.  That changes things. That means more mild Pacific air for us and less Canadian air being more directed this way.

We will see a modest warming trend this weekend through the middle of next week.

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