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Wyoming Weather: Get Ready For Snow

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We were holding out hope that a change in the weather pattern would mean the talk of snow early next week would dissipate. 

Fuggedaboutit. It’s happening.

Wyoming weatherman Don Day gave us absolutely no hope on Friday afternoon as he killed the thought of a reprieve from the wintry grim reaper.  

“Our confidence in snowfall on Monday and Tuesday keeps growing,” Day said.  “We have a pattern setting up that’s going to cut a lot of Canadian air loose out of the Northwest Territories straight south into Wyoming on Monday night and Tuesday.”

Day said the storm was a “good news, bad news” situation as the fire season will likely end as a result of the storm but so will the growing season.

“This will be a very impactful storm. Because it’s so early in the season, we have a lot of leaves on the trees. The storm could bring some branches down.”

Day said the entire state will be affected by the storm but mountainous areas, locations around the I-25 corridor, and the higher elevations on I-80 (of course, Laramie) will be the hardest hit.

“The crazy thing is all of this is gonna be preceded by some very hot temperatures through the weekend,” he said. “I mean, we’re going to have temperatures in the 80s and 90s. And 36 hours later, we’ll be in the teens and 20s.”

Not all areas of the state will receive measurable snow. Day said locations under 5,000 feet should expect rain and, at worst, a rain/snow mix.

Although rare, wintry patterns at this time year have happened before in Wyoming. 

Day points back to 1985 when only six weeks after a devastating flood hit Cheyenne on August 1, the capital city received 10 inches of snow.

Although we can all feel sorry for ourselves, perhaps we should save some empathy for Laramie. After all, their summer was really short.

Day recalled that Laramie got hit by a fluke snowstorm this year on June 8. That storm dumped 10 inches on the community.

“Laramie will only go 90 days between snowstorms this year,” he said. “Talk about a short growing season. This is truly 2020.”

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Don Day Wyoming Weather: 40 Degrees Below Normal, Snow Could Be In Forecast

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It’s going to be a roller coaster of extremes for Wyoming weather over the next few days.

Wyoming’s weatherman Don Day, in his daily podcast, said the state is going to be blasted by desert-heat over the next few days but then the jet stream “buckles,” bringing in cold air from Canada.

“Look at all this purple,” he said of the computer model showing the cold air.  In some areas of Wyoming and Colorado the temperatures are 40 degrees below normal.”

Day said the computer model is likely overdoing things but there is a possibility for freezing temperatures and snow — even on the plains — happening next week.

“Look at that, over an inch of snow in Casper and maybe a lot of snow in the Wind Rivers, the Big Horns, the Beartooths, the Front Range mountains of Colorado and the southern Wyoming, and the Laramie Range,” he said while looking at the computer model.

The full rough transcript of his podcast is below. Or just watch the embedded video for more.

———

It’s Thursday, September 3, 2020. And here’s your Day Weather podcast.

Well, folks, it’s gonna be interesting here over the next week in terms of what we’re going to see. 

First of all in the short-term, it’s going to get hot again, high pressure builds over and takes over strongly again across the Great Basin and Rockies. 

However, it’s temporary because after a big warm up, basically through Sunday over the next four days it’s going to get hot again, then we’re gonna have a big cool-down coming next week. Much colder with rain and yes, folks, we could very well see a chance of snow even on the plains early in the week next week starting late Monday, Labor Day Monday into Tuesday and Wednesday and next week. 

Temperatures are going to fall sharply by late Monday into next Tuesday and Wednesday, and we’ll show you why. 

Here we are for the forecast for Saturday. Look at this big high on Saturday over the four corners region in the Great Basin. So basically for today, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, we’re going to have the heat from this desert high rebuild and expand across the Intermountain West in the western plains, with the … main jet stream riding far to our north. 

But way back up here in the northern and Western Atlantic, there’s actually some tropical activity, some typhoon activity that’s going to get its energy into the jetstream and cause the jetstream to basically buckle and cause a big area of high pressure to build back up into the Gulf of Alaska. 

And here we see it forming by Sunday afternoon into Monday. See the high building in the Gulf of Alaska connected to the Great Basin high right here. And notice the jetstream buckles and when that happens, you get that release of colder air from Canada. 

So this is late Sunday into Monday morning. By the timeframe of Tuesday, we have a big high up in the Gulf of Alaska, the Pacific Northwest and it drives another wedge of colder air into the High Plains and Rockies. Now this is very similar to what happened early this week. However, this plunge of colder air is deeper. 

There’s going to be more moisture with it. And a lot of the computer models are green on a trough and a strong cold front Monday night Tuesday and Wednesday across the High Plains and Rockies. Now this is both good news and bad news. 

The good news is this could be the best chance of widespread precipitation in a long time in the drought-stricken areas of Wyoming, Colorado, Nebraska, parts of Montana and the Dakotas and into the plains states. 

Yes, we are going to see a real big cooldown but it could be wet. Here’s the cool down. Look at all this purple. This is by Tuesday. In some areas of Wyoming and Colorado, temperatures are 40 degrees below normal.

Now that is likely overdone. However, the possibility of freezing temperatures and the first flakes of snow even on the plains could happen next week. If we don’t get cold enough for snow we’ll certainly see some good chances of rain and certainly the high country of Wyoming and Colorado is going to have a good chance of snow. 

So for archery hunters headed to the field, next week, you probably are going to see a cold wet pattern up in the mountains for a few days. As we see here, zooming in, look at the close-up of these temperatures. Right here, this is by noon on Tuesday, Denver 46 degrees below average with our temperatures, that basically means temperatures in the upper 30s and lower 40s by noon on Tuesday. 

We’ll see if it’s that cold. Models, a lot of timesm overdo things as we well know. But this extensive area purple shows you how impressive that cold air is. But when you get cold air like that this time of year, you’re going to get some upslope conditions that are going to form and hence there you have the good chances of precipitation. 

Look at that, over an inch in Casper maybe. A lot of snow in the Wind Rivers, the Big Horns, the Beartooths, the Front Range mountains of Colorado and the southern Wyoming, the Laramie range, even up into the Pine Ridge of Nebraska, the Panhandle, Nebraska, that’s likely going to be rained. 

And it’s a pattern folks to pay close attention to because we’re going to go back to hot summer weather here for the next four days. Then we’re going into reverse. And here we are with the forecasts of potential snowfall with this front. Now again, take this with a grain of salt but you can see even down into New Mexico. 

We have got this large area by next Tuesday and Wednesday, we’re gonna be cold enough for snow reaching certainly the highest elevations and maybe those lower elevations above 6,000 feet. So it’s something to watch. We’ll update you tomorrow. So be ready for the heat. Then be ready for a 180 again next week. See you on Friday, have a good day.

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National Weather Service Says Cheyenne’s 2020 Summer Was Hottest On Record

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

If you were in Cheyenne over the summer, you may have thought the weather was hotter than usual.

Well, you weren’t wrong, because the National Weather Service has confirmed Cheyenne had its hottest summer ever recorded this year (because it’s 2020).

The NWS office in Cheyenne unveiled a chart tracking the city’s 10 hottest summers, which occurred from the 1930s to the present day.

The average temperature in Cheyenne from June through August this year was 70 degrees, the warmest period recorded since records started being kept. The second warmest period was 69.9 degrees in 2012.

Eight of the 10 warmest summers have occurred since 2000.

2013 saw a dip in its average temperature compared to the year prior, coming in at 68.8 degrees, the same as the summer of 1936.

2016 had the 10th hottest summer on record, averaging 68.5 degrees.

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Snow Possible In Wyoming This Weekend. Because It’s 2020

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State

As the 10 biblical plagues continue to curse Wyoming and the rest of the world, a portion of the state will see another favorite friend: snow.

The National Weather Service in Riverton has issued a hazardous weather outlook for a major chunk of the state, from Yellowstone National Park to Rock Springs, which called for possible snowfall Sunday night.

A strong cold front is expected to bring cooler air to the region, turning the potential rain into snow in the northern mountains Sunday night into Monday morning.

This will result in some “light” snowfall accumulations, as if 2020 hadn’t already been inconvenient enough.

The other hazards the NWS office warned about were critical fire conditions and thunderstorms this weekend.

To be fair, hail was actually one of the 10 plagues, not snow, so we should be fine. Right?

But we have already dealt with bugs, blood and wild animals.

Just sayin’.

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Southeastern, Central Wyoming Under Red Flag Warning Until Late Friday

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Much of southeastern Wyoming is under a red flag warning for fire danger until late Friday, according to the National Weather Service in Cheyenne.

The affected area stretches from Baggs all the way east past Cheyenne and into Torrington. It also stretches as far north as Bill and Glenrock.

The Weather Service predicted winds of around 15 to 25 mph, with gusts up to 35 mph.

Meteorologist Don Day noted in his Friday forecast that Wyoming was in for warm and dry weather, perfect conditions for a red flag warning. Fire dangers will be a concern over the weekend and into next week, he added.

“We have been able to avoid widespread or big fires this fire season so far, knock on wood,” Day said. “But be really careful if you’re going out this weekend or next.”

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. Any fires that start in these conditions can spread rapidly, so outdoor burning should be avoided.

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 start 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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Dry Conditions, High Fire Danger Lead To Fire Restrictions Across Wyoming

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Fire restrictions are being implemented in multiple Wyoming counties Friday due to dry conditions and high fire danger across the state.

The restrictions will apply to public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management in Fremont, Hot Springs, Natrona, Washakie, Big Horn and Park counties.

Washakie and Hot Springs counties are currently experiencing a wildfire, known as the Neiber Fire, which is estimated to cover 17,606 acres and is 30% contained. The fire started south of Worland on Wednesday and was caused by humans.

Fire managers base decisions about fire restrictions on current and projected weather conditions, the amount of dry vegetation and other risk factors.

“These fire restrictions are a result of our continued coordinated relationships with our fellow wildfire cooperators,” Fire Management Officer Rich Zimmerlee said in a news release.

Hot, dry conditions and high fire danger have prompted the prohibition of the following activities:

  • Building, maintaining, attending or using a fire or campfire except within agency-provided fire grates at developed recreation sites, within fully enclosed stoves with a ¼-inch spark arrester type screen, within fully enclosed grills or in stoves using pressurized liquid or gas;
  • Smoking, except in an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site or while stopped in an area at least three feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable materials;
  • Operating a chainsaw without a U.S. Department of Agriculture or Society of Automotive Engineers approved spark arrester properly installed and working, a chemical fire extinguisher of not less than 8 ounces capacity by weight and one round point shovel with an overall length of at least 36 inches;
  • Using a welder, either arc or gas, or operating an acetylene or other torch with open flame, except in cleared areas of at least 10 feet in diameter with a chemical pressurized fire extinguisher of not less than 8 ounces capacity.

These fire restrictions are in addition to the year-round wildfire prevention restrictions on BLM-administered lands throughout Wyoming, which include:

  • Discharging or using any fireworks.
  • Discharging a firearm using incendiary or tracer ammunition.
  • Burning, igniting or causing to burn any tire, wire, magnesium or any other hazardous or explosive material.
  • Operating any off-road vehicle on public lands unless the vehicle is equipped with a properly installed spark arrester pursuant to 43 CFR 8343.1 (c).
  • Use/discharge of explosives of any kind, incendiary devices, pyrotechnic devices, or exploding targets.

Failure to comply with fire restrictions on federal lands is punishable by law. Those found responsible for starting wildfires will also face restitution costs for suppressing the fire.

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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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