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High Temperature Records Fall Throughout Wyoming as Heat Wave Continues

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

If you thought it was warmer than usual this weekend, you aren’t dreaming. 

Record high temperatures were set across the state on Saturday and Sunday and more records could be toppled on Monday as the unseasonable weather for the area continues.

You know it’s a heat wave when Big Piney, Wyoming — frequently known as the icebox of the nation — hits 70 degrees in April, which it did on Sunday.

Normally this time of year, Big Piney averages 44 degrees for the high temperature.

Records also fell in Buffalo, Casper, Cheyenne, Cody, Lander, Laramie, Rawlins, Riverton, and Rock Springs.

Some of the previous record highs had been around for a long, long time too.

Cheyenne’s high of 76 degrees on Sunday broke a 132-year record as the previous high of 72 degrees had stayed on the record books since 1889 — before Wyoming was a state.

The real hot stuff occurred just to the east of Wyoming where Scottsbluff, Nebraska hit 85 degrees. That beat the former high of 81 degrees which was set back in 1942.

As it’s April in Wyoming, these warm temperatures won’t stick around for long.

As Dubois artist Gary Keimig said on Saturday: “We are in what might be called a false Spring.”

Record high temperatures for some areas of Wyoming will likely continue on Monday before a cold front rushes in and brings more typical April-like weather to Wyoming.

Enjoy it while it lasts…

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Despite Historic Snowstorm, Wyoming’s Drought Still Here

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By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

It’s dry here.

It may not look it, but much of Wyoming has been declared a primary natural disaster area by the U.S. Department of Agriculture due to continuing drought conditions.

From Goshen County to Carbon, from Albany County to Big Horn, farmers in 19 Wyoming counties have been offered the option to apply for emergency loans from the Farm Service Agency, provided eligibility requirements are met.

Don Day, founder of DayWeather and known as “Wyoming’s Weatherman,” said the trouble began, ironically, around the same time as the pandemic hit.

“Right around this time, last year, March and April, in May, we started to go into what’s called a La Nina,” he said. “And when the Pacific gets colder near the equator, Wyoming and the surrounding region tends to go into drier patterns. But this is the strongest La Nina we’ve seen in 10 to 11 years – and that’s one reason why 2020 started to go dry.”

Day explained that there’s a pattern to the La Nina effect.

“What’s interesting, they’re spaced about every 10 or so years apart,” he said. “We had a similar situation in 2011-2012, and a very similar situation in 1999 to 2001. So there’s cyclical natures to these dry periods.”

David Northrup’s family has farmed in the Powell area for over 100 years, and has seen it all when it comes to weather. And having spent eight years in Wyoming’s House of Representatives, Northrup knows that not everyone understands what farmers in the state go through.

“A lot of the people there are ranching people — and they utilize land in a different way,” he explained. “So that means in the spring, when they’re turning cattle or sheep livestock onto the hillsides, they have to be careful about that and be conscious about that growth.”

But because Wyoming is a rural state, the dry weather pattern will affect more than just agricultural producers. Northrup pointed out that when the grass struggles to grow, people who keep horses for recreational purposes will feel the crunch as well.

“Because even if you got one or two horses sitting in your backyard that you use for recreation, finding hay for them can be just as tough as it is for the guy that’s got five or 600 head of cattle,” he said.

But not every farmer and rancher in the state will be affected by the lack of water from the sky. Northrup pointed out that the canal system devised by Buffalo Bill Cody in the early 1900s has protected Park County agriculture from the worst.

“For us locally here as farmers, we’re pretty well protected,” he said. “Unless we don’t get snow in the mountains — if we don’t get snow in the mountains, then we’re not in a good position.”

Right now the mountain snowpack looks good for this summer, Northrup said.

“We’re over 100% again, which is just a blessing,” he explained, gesturing to the Absaroka and Beartooth mountains. “And you go to the south, and you go down and look at the other side of the Owl Creek mountains, and they are 79%.”

But for the rest of the state, there’s a giant dark blotch on the map that indicates that snowpack is poor, and surface water is inadequate for ranching and farming. That’s despite the big storm that hit much of Wyoming earlier this month. 

Day noted even though the equivalent of up to two inches of rain fell onto the thirsty landscape in some places, because of the ongoing La Nina weather pattern, the drought conditions will most likely continue.

“That has been rather stubborn now going on for better than a year, and the worst ones tend to go two years — and the predictions are right now that at least until early fall, some form of La Nina is going to continue,” Day explained. “And if it does, the spring and summer of 2021, for many parts of the West, may be drier than normal again. So even with this recent, very wet storm for certain parts of the region, it’s not enough to erase the drought.”ge saying if no such plan was developed by mid-2023, the authority would be dissolved.

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Competing Computer Models Predict Wyoming Will Have a Wet Spring Or Dry Spring (Or Both)

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

Wet spring, dry spring.

Not the name of a banned Dr. Seuss book, but a question in the minds of many Wyomingites — a number of whom are hoping for the former.

With much of Wyoming experiencing a drought, a rainy (and snowy) few months would help, but even Wyoming’s weatherman, Don Day, isn’t sure what to expect.

The problem, he says, is competing computer modeling.

Day, of course, isn’t the standard “made for TV’ weatherman who bloviates in front of a green screen for three minutes at 5:30 and 10 p.m. 

Day actually explains forecasting and the science behind it — like computer modeling and why it’s not all that it’s cracked up to be.

“We are always so suspicious — and you should be — of long-range computer modeling,” Day said on his Tuesday morning weather podcast. 

He said European and Canadian computer models predict a “very dry” spring, but the American computer model, which the National Weather Service puts out, is showing the exact opposite.

“You could’t have more of a disagreement,” Day said.  “So you have to wonder: What does this model see that could make it so wet?”

Day said there’s a difference between sea surface temperatures. He is a big believer in the interaction between sea surface temperatures and weather patterns in the western high plains.

If the predicted temperatures are cooler than average — like the European and the Canadian models show — that means we’ll have a drier than normal spring.

The American model, on the other hand, is showing warmer sea surface temperatures and a near-elimination of La Niña — a weather pattern that makes it drier and warmer over our area. El Niño produces the opposite effect.

Which model does Day believe?  He’s going for majority rule.

“It’s more likely that the European and the Canadian models are correct,” he said explaining that sea surface temperatures are cooling right now along the west coast.

“While La Niña is weakening near the equator, it’s still there, it’s not gone,” he said. “And for the last 90 days, the whole eastern Pacific has cooled off.”

So, in order for the American model to be correct, something has to reverse that trend and he doesn’t see it.

At the same time, however, Day acknowledges that his speculation is just that — speculation.

“You should be very skeptical of all climate and meteorological models that look out over five days,” he said. 

Day did say, however, that the historic snowstorm that hit much of Wyoming earlier this month was helpful.

“It was a godsend,” Day said. “It really helped us out. But we’re not out of the drought yet.”

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Gordon Declares State of Emergency Due to Historic Blizzard

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Three days after a major snowstorm hit southeast Wyoming, Gov. Mark Gordon declared a state of emergency on Wednesday.

The emergency declaration allows the director of the Wyoming Office of Homeland Security to mobilize state and federal personnel and resources and to help get the state back up and running after the storm that dropped more than 30 inches of snow on some areas.

It also directs the Adjutant General, in consultation with WOHS and Gordon, to deploy, if needed, the Wyoming National Guard to areas of the state that have been identified for emergency assistance.

No Guard members had been activated as of Wednesday morning.

“The scale and intensity of this storm have caused severe impacts to our transportation infrastructure and agriculture producers,” Gordon said. “As the scope of the situation unfolds and with the possibility of flooding as temperatures warm, it’s imperative we make all our resources available to respond to the needs in our communities.”

The snowstorm over the weekend delivered more than 30 inches of wet, heavy snow to southeast Wyoming, closing Interstates 25 and 80, causing power outages and leading to the closure of city, county and state offices and school districts for multiple days.

The impacts of the storm prompted several counties to ask Gordon for the emergency declaration, he said.

While Interstate 25 opened Wednesday morning, Interstate 80 between Cheyenne and Laramie remained closed, as did state and city offices in Cheyenne. Many secondary roads in southeastern Wyoming remained closed Wednesday.

During a news conference on Tuesday, Cheyenne Mayor Patrick Collins urged patience from residents who were ready to leave their homes after being trapped for days.

“I know that a lot are restless today,” Collins said via videoconference. “We’ve been stuck for three days now and we all want to get out. But our police department would ask you not to get out in your cars and become part of the problem.”

Collins said Interim Fire Chief John Kopper compared the community to a zombie apocalypse, with people walking to supermarkets in the middle of the street because there’s no other place to walk.

“Please be patient,” Collins said. “We’re doing our best and we’re gonna get there, I promise. We’re using everything and every available asset that we have to get the streets cleared, and try to get the city back to normal.”

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Cheyenne Mayor Patrick Collins: “It’s Like the Zombie Apocalypse Out There”

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It’s going to take awhile for the City of Cheyenne to open up again.

Still reeling from the blizzard that dumped more than 30 inches of snow on its streets over the weekend, Wyoming’s capital city, for the most part, is still closed and the mayor of Cheyenne is urging patience.

“I know that a lot are restless today,” Collins said via videoconference. “We’ve been stuck for three days now and we all want to get out. But our police department would ask you not to get out in your cars and become part of the problem.”

City officials announced city offices would be closed for a third consecutive day Wednesday as crews continue their work to clear the streets. Residents were asked to remain in their homes to leave the streets clear for snowplows.

Collins said Interim Fire Chief John Kopper compared the community to a zombie apocalypse, with people walking to supermarkets in the middle of the street because there’s no other place to walk.

Because the temperatures have hovered around the freezing point during the day, there’s been very little melting. So the 30-plus inches of snow has stayed put. And that’s a lot of snow.

The problem, Collins said, is not so much the plowing of the snow — it’s where to put the snow. Everything is full of — snow.

So the plan, the mayor said, is to bulldoze an 8-foot wide path down every residential street. The rest is up to the community.

“That means you’re going to have to dig out to get to it, but with the 2 or 3 feet of snow that’s there, we’re not going to be able to do much more than that,” Collins said.

The emphasis will continue to be public safety, he said.

Collins thanked Janine West, the director of Laramie County Emergency Management Office, who set up agreements with more than 25 Cheyenne snowmobilers who have been taking police and fire department workers back and forth to work.

“They’ve been really heroic in helping us get people where they need to go. So I just wanted to say thank you to Janine and her crew for helping coordinate everything,” he said.

Collins didn’t have a timeline as to when residential streets would be open but he did say every street was eventually going to be plowed.

“Please be patient,” Collins said. “We’re doing our best and we’re gonna get there, I promise. We’re using everything and every available asset that we have to get the streets cleared, and try to get the city back to normal.”

Don’t expect a lot of melting over the next 7 to 10 days as the high temperatures will mostly be in the mid- to upper 30s, although 47 degrees is the predicted high for Saturday.

The cooler temperatures are probably best as flooding, hopefully, will be kept to a minimum.

The harsh conditions won’t be stopping the Wyoming State Legislature from going back in session.

Committee meetings will begin at 8 a.m. Wednesday and lawmakers will be gaveled for proceedings in the House and Seante chambers at 10 am. Zoom will be an option.

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Cheyenne Gym’s Roof Collapses After Major Snowstorm

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A Cheyenne gym’s roof collapsed due to the nearly 3 feet of snowfall that blanketed the city over the weekend.

CrossFit Frontier was one of the casualties of the recent blizzard, which shut down much of southeastern Wyoming for a second day on Tuesday.

Half of the gym’s roof collapsed on Monday night, the gym said in a social media post.

“Obviously we will be closed for the foreseeable future,” the post said. “We appreciate everyone’s willingness to help with moving things from the gym. However, at this time it is still not safe to be inside as there is still a lot of snow accumulated on the non collapsed side of the building.”

It didn’t appear anyone was hurt when the roof collapsed and all classes had been canceled at the gym on Monday.

The gym’s current location is in the 2400 block of East Seventh Street in Cheyenne, but obviously, a move will be in the business’ future. CrossFit Frontier has been open since 2011, according to its website.

“In the mean time be on the look out for more at home workouts to get you through until we can get reopened,” the gym wrote. “As always, thank you all for your love and support.”

Much of southeastern Wyoming has been affected by the storm in one way or another. Although portions of central and western Wyoming began to see traffic move again on the state’s highways on Tuesday, roads in and out of Cheyenne remained blocked by the heavy snow dropped by the blizzard.

Government offices and schools remained closed in Cheyenne on Tuesday and the Legislature, which rarely stops its work because of weather conditions, suspended proceedings for a second day as the city continued its efforts to clear the roads around the community.

The weekend blizzard left 31 inches of snow on Cheyenne, breaking a 42-year-old record, and the Cheyenne Police Department, on its Facebook page, predicted it could take city snowplow crews several days to finish clearing snow from the community’s roads.

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UW Classes Resume In Wake Of Storm That Leaves Highways Closed

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By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

Classes at the University of Wyoming resumed Tuesday as southeastern Wyoming continued to dig out from a winter storm that left record-breaking snow depths in its wake.

Even though highways around Laramie remained closed Tuesday, classes resumed at the UW one day after the snowstorm shut down the campus Monday for both online and in-person classes.

However, the university encouraged employees who were able to work from home to do so to give UW workers extra time to dig out from the more than 18 inches of snow fell Laramie during the blizzard.

Laramie resident Sarah Froehlich said it wasn’t necessarily the amount of snow that fell that caused the worst of the problems — it was the blowing and drifting.

“On Saturday night the wind was horrible! I’ve never heard it that bad,” she said. “It kept me up that night. You could hear the snow hitting the screens and windows.”

Froehlich added that the roads in town are still drifted, except for the main streets, and added the closed roads could be keeping some businesses closed.

“I think the drifting has been the worst issue, people just can’t get out,” she said.

Although the UW was open Tuesday, the Wyoming Tribune Eagle reported the Laramie campus of Laramie County Community College remained closed.

Highways to the northwest, southeast and northeast were still closed as of Tuesday afternoon, and WYDOT updates warned that portions of Interstate 80 between Rawlins and the Nebraska border may not be open until sometime Wednesday.

But it’s not just people who are suffering because of the storm. 

The Albany County Emergency Management office released a notice that some ranchers are having trouble feeding their livestock, due to hay shortages or inability to access the animals because of the storm. 

The office is offering to help to anyone who may be experiencing such difficulties. 

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Southeast Wyoming Shuts Down For Another Day, Warmer Temps Predicted

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming’s southeastern corner remained cut off from the rest of the world Tuesday as the state continued its efforts to dig out from Sunday’s record-breaking snowstorm.

Although portions of central and western Wyoming began to see traffic move again on the state’s highways, roads in and out of Cheyenne remained blocked by the heavy snow dropped by the blizzard.

The storm forced the closure of Interstate 80 from Cheyenne west to Rock Springs and Interstate 25 from Cheyenne north to Buffalo on Sunday, but by Tuesday, roads north of Casper and west of Rawlins had reopened.

Interstate 25 between Cheyenne and Casper was expected to open Tuesday, but I80 west of Cheyenne was not expected to reopen until Wednesday.

Government offices and schools remained closed in Cheyenne on Tuesday and the Legislature, which rarely stops its work because of weather conditions, suspended proceedings for a second day as the city continued its efforts to clear the roads around the community.

The weekend blizzard left 31 inches of snow on Cheyenne, breaking a 42-year-old record, and the Cheyenne Police Department, on its Facebook page, predicted it could take city snowplow crews several days to finish clearing snow from the community’s roads.

Schools and offices were also closed in Goshen and Natrona counties, along with Wheatland.

Pine Bluffs, where 20 inches of snow fell during the weekend, had students attend school in virtual classrooms.

Weather conditions were expected to remain cool and unsettled until warming up on Thursday, according to meteorologist Don Day of DayWeather.

Day, in his daily podcast, said the state could expect some significant snow melting by Saturday.

“Between Thursday and Saturday we’re going to have a nice warm up, the snow will be melting, the sun will be out,” he said. “Unfortunately, don’t get used to it.”

Day said another storm front moving into the region from the Pacific could bring more rain and snow to the area.

“We may have a developing system on the plains Sunday night into Monday that will produce some rain and snow east of the (Continental) Divide in some areas,” he said. “Then there is another storm system possibly to contend with by the middle of next week.”

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Californian Driving Mini Cooper Causes Four-Hour Delay & Numerous Wrecks On I-80

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

A Californian driving a Mini Cooper through Sunday’s blizzard caused some major problems in Laramie area when he ventured out on Interstate 80.

A Wyoming State Trooper called Wyoming air personality Glenn Woods’ radio program Monday morning to discuss the impact of the Californian who mistakenly went out on the Interstate to see if the roads were fit for a Mini Cooper.

They weren’t, of course, and the Californian got stuck on the Interstate.

At least two snowplow drivers who were trying to avoid the Mini Cooper got in an accident which halted cleanup activity in the area.

Subsequently all of the snowplows were then stuck on I-80 until the wreckage could be moved from the road which severely impacted all cleanup efforts for miles.

“Because of this one individual, our entire fleet of plow trucks were landlocked,” the trooper said. “This cost thousands of dollars to the truckers and really hampered snow removal efforts.”

But it didn’t stop there. Because this portion of the Interstate was closed, drivers tried to divert away from the closure by going through Laramie itself.

Problem was, the roads were worse inside the city than on the Interstate. 

“These drivers got stranded in drifts all over Grand Avenue,” the trooper said.  

The exasperated trooper said it took more than four hours to clean up the mess created by the Californian. Plus, numerous snow plows — instead of plowing roads — were sidelined during the ordeal.

“If we can keep the plows moving, we stand a better chance of keeping up with the storm,” he said. “Once you gridlock us, we’re done.”

Sadly, the Californian was not arrested but was ticketed and had to pay the cost for the tow back to Laramie.

“When you get those tow bills as a result of these bad decisions, that’s quite a punishment in itself,” the trooper said.

Hopefully there’s a comma in that tow bill.

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Snow So Deep In Cheyenne, Emergency Management Asks Citizens For Snowmobiles

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The snow in Cheyenne was so deep following Sunday’s record-breaking storm that the Cheyenne-Laramie County Emergency Management Department put out a call for civilian help.

According to a social media post, the department was in need of people who own snowmobiles and/or tracked vehicles, ones that have rubber/other material tracks which make it easier to travel on snow, to help with shift changes at emergency response agencies.

Our Public Safety crews throughout the City and County need assistance getting a shift change done.” the post said. “Our Law Enforcement, Fire Department personnel, EMS Crews, and 911 Dispatchers have been working countless hours responding to every call they can and need a shift change.”

While Cheyenne’s public safety crews were helping with the shift changes, the civilian vehicles would be of incredible assistance, and could also be used for 911 responses, the post said.

Anyone in the Cheyenne or Laramie County area with this type of vehicle was encouraged to contact the department at 307-775-7360.

Cheyenne, like much of Wyoming, was pummeled with snow over the weekend, receiving 30.8 inches as of Monday morning. The National Weather Service said Sunday Cheyenne broke a two-day snowfall record this weekend.

The heavy snow prompted closures for all state government offices in Cheyenne on Monday, the University of Wyoming, all schools in Laramie and Natrona counties, as well as city offices in both locations.

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