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Don Day: Two Nice Days Then Cold Front Coming Through (Watch Out, Lander/South Pass)

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Don Day

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

It is Friday, February 28. Good morning.

Well, we’ve got an extra day. It’s Leap Day. So we have a bonus day — not only an extra day of the year, but an extra good day of weather before here comes March. Coming in a bit like a lion on Sunday and Monday.

Today and tomorrow is a great opportunity to travel or do something outside. Going to be spring-like. 40s and 50s today. 50s and 60s tomorrow. Really a couple of good days.

However, if you’ve got plans to travel or be outdoors Sunday into Monday, well heads-up to stockgrowers and travelers, wintry weather returns.

This is why. There is a low coming in. This is the forecast by late Sunday night in to Monday morning.

We have a low pressure in southern California which feeds energy and moisture this way. Then we have this little kink in the jet stream — that is a Canadian cold front which will bring in colder Canadian air.

When you take Pacific moisture from here. You bring in Canadian air from here and you put these areas together, this is always a good pattern to make it snow.

We have a lot of confidence in this pattern that you’re going to get snow. It doesn’t tend to produce a ton of snow. 

This also is the type of storm system that doesn’t produce a ton of wind either. So it is more of a straight-down snow which doesn’t happen often.

But it’s going to be covering a lot of real estate. This is the prediction through Tuesday morning of where the heaviest snow will fall.

Remember, this is a model. The thing to remember models is that they are tools, not reality.

But it is a good way to show you where we think the heaviest snow will fall.  And as you can see, all of the I-80 corridor of Wyoming and western Nebraska, we’re going to get snowed on.

So if you have travels on I-80 starting late Saturday night and into Sunday morning here, you are going to run into snowfall. This is an area to watch out for Saturday night and Sunday morning.

Then you can see Casper, along I-25 and out into the front range of Colorado will all be impacted. Also, watch out for this bullseye.  This is a Lander/South Pass system. This type of system really does bring heavy snow to the South Pass of Wyoming and that will be something to watch out for.

See these purple areas here on the higher terrain between Rawlins and Laramie — that is the Snow Chi Minh trail. I-80 corridor area that will significant snow.

Again, this starts on Saturday night late in this area and during the overnight hours of Saturday spreads into Central Wyoming and the southern areas of the state during the day Sunday into Monday morning. Be ready for some wintry weather after two really good looking days.

Now, after that storm system moves out, this is for Thursday. Notice we get a westerly flow. That means warmer temperatures that will come in.

What will happen is, this is the roller coaster season. We have a winter event. We get colder after a couple warm days. Then we have a nice warmup at the end of next weekend.

Although the next system will come in the following Saturday and Sunday and it could bring cold and snow again. We’ll see. 

This pattern right here in the Pacific is a little conveluted. This area of low pressure here and this area of low pressure here, it may not be handled well by the models.

Do expect the weather forecast to be variable or changeable. Typical for this time of year.

Snowpack conditions. They continue to be very good. Only the Sweetwater and the Belle Fourche drainages are a bit below average right now, the rest of Wyoming is doing very well. Same for Colorado.

One quick thing I want to show you. This is a very long range forecast for August, September, and October. These are sea temperature forecasts. 

This is something that we’ll update you on in the coming weeks and months. As we continue to see the computer modeling forecasting cold sea surface temperatures in the sub tropical Pacific which means late summer / early fall we could enter into a la Nina phase, that means a dry signature.

Be ready for some great weather for a couple days. Then be ready for snow Saturday night through early Monday.

Don Day’s Wyoming Weather Forecast for Monday, February 24

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Don Day

The following is a rushed transcript of Don Day’s weather forecast for Monday, February 24.

Welcome to Monday, it is February 24. Thanks for tuning in to the Day Weather podcast.

The week starts off cold and blustery across the intermountain west. One two punch of cold fronts will affect us thru mid-week with much colder conditions after what was a pretty decent weekend for many of you before things started to change on Sunday.

Now we are heading back to winter weather again. What I’m going to be outlining here is the snowfall through Thursday across the intermountain west.

Most of Montana, Wyoming, western South Dakota, western Nebraska, and a large part of Colorado will see some snow. The heaviest snow will fall over and near the mountain ranges and you can see just enough snow will be falling on the plains combined with some very strong and cold northwest winds — which will add some wind chill and make roads and highways icy.

This is not a pattern that is going to bring anyone a lot of snow on the plains. It’s nuisance snow — just enough to make roads and highways slick. Just enough that you might have to shovel the sidewalk, the driveway, wipe off the car windshield — that type of snow.

Temperatures are going to be a lot colder over the next two to three days and plenty of wind along and east of the Continental Divide along the wind prone areas.

We will see a bit of a change though as the pattern does get better by the end of the week. I want to show you how the jet stream will evolve.

Right now we have high pressure building along the northwest coast. This is causing an area of low pressure to come into the Rockies and high plains.

We are looking at a forecast for Tuesday that is showing the cold air getting pumped in behind the low swinging through the region. That is why is going to be a cold and blustery start of the week.

here’s some good news. This is the jet stream for Friday night into the weekend. Notice we have a little mountain, a ridge of high pressure which will develop over the intermountain west as we get into Friday, Saturday, and early Sunday.

At the end of the week and probably most of the weekend, we will have another break in the weather. Not unlike what happened late this past weekend where we had a bit of a mild stretch. Didn’t have much wind and the weather looked good.

However, off the Pacific Northwest coast, there is another troff poised to come in. As we look ahead into Monday, March 2, that same low digs down into the four corners area.

Here we go. Early next week — Monday and Tuesday — we could be looking at an area of low pressure over the four corners area and the intermountain west just in time for the start of March. Really right on schedule.

As you get into March, as we well know, the weather gets more active. Here’s another system. Doesn’t look like much right now. But this is going to be another low that is going to come in and swing behind it three days later.

So March is going to start off busy. Bundle up. Get ready for a cold blustery start of the week with a little bit of snow. Good weather at the end of the week and the weekend. Then another storm early next week.

Thanks for watching the Day Weather Podcast.

Don Day’s Weather Forecast for Friday, February 21, 2020

in News/weather/Wyoming

This is a rushed transcript of today’s Don Day weather forecast: Good morning and good Friday to everybody. Thanks for watching the Day Weather podcast.

Well, we’ve enjoyed some pretty quiet weather. Yesterday, was gorgeous across the region. Sunshine, not much wind, a little chilly but a really day that gives you spring fever a little bit.

For today and Saturday, for the most part, we’ve got two more days of quiet weather across Wyoming. It really looks nice for two more days.

We’ve got a little bit of a storm system that is going to bring some rain to southern California today and tomorrow.

Then it is going to come up and produce some snow. I’ll show you the snow forecast from one of our computer models that takes us through Sunday afternoon.

Notice it will be Colorado’s mountains and western slope that sees the best chance of accumulating snow and look how the northern part of this system just barely gets into southern Wyoming.

This area here is a question mark. If the low tracks a little more north, I think this system could bring some snow to places like Laramie and Cheyenne. 

If it goes a little more south, it could all stay south of the border.

There are a lot of question marks right in northeast Colorado. It could very well be dry as the model is showing but this band of snow along Interstate 70 we are pretty confident about.

We may see this band go north or south. I guess what I’m leading up to here is there are a lot of question marks as to where the best snow is going to fall on Sunday especially in eastern Colorado.

The question mark is if it will get into Laramie or Cheyenne because it’s right on the edge.

Notice the rest of Wyoming will have a very nice day on Sunday. 

But things will change next week. We go to a colder pattern. Here is the snow forecast through Wednesday.

And you can see the winds aloft coming from the northwest again. That drags some cold air and this will bring cold out into the plains in most of Wyoming from Monday thru Wednesday next week.

This snow, that you see right here, is coming Monday through Wednesday, along with a pretty good drop of temperatures.

So the nice weather lasts for two more days. Three days for some of you.  Then early next week, expect a change.

And here, we can see the upper level pattern of the jet stream, this is by Tuesday morning. It gets much colder again.

Tjhis high pressure ridge will move east. Monday thru Wednesday will turn quite a bit colder.

But the end of next week and into next weekend, the high pressure will likely move in temporarily.

One thing I want to show you, we’ve shown it before : the eastern Pacific oscillation. It is an indication of how stormy a pattern may be in the Rockies and the high plains. Anytime we see the eastern Pacific oscillation near this zero line or below it, it means an active pattern.

This is where we are right now. Notice how nice the weather is right now?  The eastern Pacific oscillation is in a positive phase.

But as we get into next week and beyond, the oscillation forecast average is right near the zero mark. You see these dips? These ups and downs.

This takes us up to early April. We expect March to be more busy.

Thanks for watching the Day weather podcast. See you on Monday.

Don Day’s Wyoming Forecast for Thursday, February 20.

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Don Day

Welcome to the Day Weather Podcast on Thursday, February 20.

Not a lot going on over the region for the next three days. We are in a nice break in the weather. Something we haven’t seen recently is a break in the weather pattern — this will help us out in traveling.

We did see some snow last night and early this morning in parts of central and southern and eastern Colorado. That’s moving away.

Cold, high pressure is going to move in today which should last through Saturday in most areas.

It’s very cold out there in many areas. Below zeros in many areas. Some fog.

There will be a small moderation in temperatures. Yesterday’s snow flurry activity which affected some should be moving on out.

One thing to watch — we don’t get to show you this very often. For those folks who live along the I-80 corridor, you know how nasty the Elk Mountain/Arlington can be — look at this.  

This shows you how nice the weather is. The wind gusts at Arlington / Elk Mountain this morning is six miles an hour.  The average wind speed is only two miles an hour. Wonderful to see.

One reason for that is that it is so cold, it settles the wind down a bit.  For a change, instead of talking about blowing snow and strong winds, sometimes we can show you that indeed the wind can slow down or even stop at times during the winter. Just not very often.

Here is the forecast for the next three days. This snowfall, right here, already has happened overnight and early this morning. But you can see through Saturday morning the snowfall forecast is almost non-existent all across the northern Rockies through Saturday morning.

So today, Friday, and Saturday we’ll see a nice break in the weather. Things change though.

This is by Sunday afternoon and then on to early Monday. We’ve got a storm system that is going to come up out of Southern California and then through central and southern Colorado.

One thing that makes us kind of nervous is this area right here. Some computer modeling is taking this storm a little more to the north. So, there’s the possibility that Sunday into Monday morning, the I-80 corridor could see some now.

It could also stay south into Colorado.  One thing is for certain, for folks in Colorado — especially west central and southwest and southern Colorado — you’ve got another good chance of snow coming in on late Saturday night and Sunday.

Some front range areas and eastern plains of Colorado could be under the gun for some accumulating snow in that Sunday/Monday timeframe.

Then as we get into early next week, we’ll see things change. This is that low that comes through Sunday.  You can see it staying over southern Colorado.

But if it tracks a little more north, I-80 in Nebraska and Wyoming could be looking at a little bit of snow.

We’ll update you tomorrow. We should have a better idea if Sunday’s snow creeps into Wyoming or not. 

Taking a longer range look, this is for Tuesday, notice the jet stream takes a bit dip and the door to Canada is wide open.

After three days of quiet weather, beginning Sunday and heading into early next week,  the door to Canada is open and temperatures will fall.

It’s not a really snowy pattern in terms of heavy snow. But some light snow will fall in the high plains and Rockies early to mid next week. Plan on that if traveling. This is a pattern that really favors the mountains again to build on their snowpack even more.

Thanks for watching the Day Weather Podcast.  Enjoy the quiet weather here for the next three days.

Wyoming Weatherman Don Day’s Forecast for February 14

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Don Day

The following is a rushed transcription of Don Day’s weather forecast for February 14 and the President’s Day weekend.

Good morning. Hello everyone. Happy Valentine’s Day. Thanks for watching the Day Weather podcast.

It’s all about the wind over the next couple days. Today and Saturday. Winds are going to be picking up. Especially true for viewers in Wyoming where I-80 and I-25 will be hit by high winds, blowover risks, blowing and drifting snow and out in the open areas along secondary roads.

It will definitely be a concern.

As we take a look past the next two days, which generally speaking for today and Saturday, other than mountain snow showers, looks fairly dry.

But we do see another weather system that will bring snow back into Wyoming late Saturday but especially into Sunday.

As we get into Sunday and President’s Day Monday, this is the snow forecast. Notice we have snow in all of the mountain ranges and the Rockies. But also we will see the possibility that we will see snow east of the Continental Divide Sunday night but especially Monday into Tuesday.

Also there is going to be snow near the mountains along the western slopes of Wyoming, Colorado, and into the Wasatch front of Utah as well.

As we have seen for most of the several weeks, the mountains have really gotten the bulk of the snow. That will continue.

But since this is a three day weekend, just a heads-up along I-80, I-25, I-90, there will be some wintry weather on Sunday night into Monday.

So if you have a three day weekend, keep that in mind. It’s not a big storm but enough to be a nuisance.

And there is a lot of cold air that’s going to come in and make Sunday night, Monday, and Tuesday quite a bit colder all throughout this region for the first half of next week.

Warmer, windy today and Saturday. Then Sunday and Sunday night, Monday, and Tuesday be ready for some wintry weather again.

We are anticipating late next week a warmup. I think as we get into the following weekend, there could be a thaw. The first half of next week looks pretty cold. Late next week and next weekend a thaw.

But after that, things get interesting again.

This is a very long range outlook. This takes us all the way out to Tuesday, Feb 25. One thing that’s showing up on the modeling is a large low coming into the Four Corners region sometime around Feb 24, 25, 26.

Will this happen? It’s a question mark. But we are seeing signs that this scenario which would be a weather producer is on the table. We talked earlier this week that March could be an active month and it kinda gets started in February. That still looks to be the case.

One thing that I want to show and we pay attention to at Day Weather is sea-surface temperatures. This is a sea surface temperature map of the globe.

Anywhere you see blue, water temperatures are a little cold. Orange and red is a little bit warmer.

These are temperatures relative to what we call averages. Where the cold and warm water is is really important.

Remember how stormy last Spring was. We had that big blizzard last winter in the middle of March. We went into March with one of the busier and stormier Marchs in awhile.

And a lot of that had to do with what the sea surface temperatures were.

This is our current sea surface temperature patterns right now. I want to show you this relative warmth. This is not an El Nino but relative warmth right here north of the equator.

We still have temperatures in the Pacific that are a little bit warmer than average.

This area of colder weather is growing and it could result in La Nina later this year.

But check out the remarkable similarities in the sea surface temperatures in the middle of February to where we were a year ago.

A year ago today, this is what they look like. This is what they look like now.

A year ago, it was a little bit colder in the Indian Ocean. We also have the same coolness developing here.

But this relative area of warmth right here and right here is very similar to where we were a year ago.

So the table is set late February into March that this warmer water temperature — again not very warm but just warm enough — to add more energy and moisture into the west United States in the beginning of March and the end of February.

we’ll keep you up to date on these sea surface temperatures occasionally.

Thanks for watching the Day Weather podcast. Have a great weekend. Talk to you on Monday.

Don Day Wyoming Weather forecast for Thursday, February 13

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Don Day

The following is a transcription of Don Day’s weather forecast for Thursday, February 13.

A pleasant and good Thursday everybody. Thanks for listening and watching the Day Weather podcast.

Let’s take a look at what’s coming over the next few days. We did some snow last night. A couple of inches in Cheyenne and Laramie and Casper got some snow. Central and northeast Wyoming too.

That system is moving out. As we get into today, quiet and cold today. Good news is that we don’t expect much wind. Just a good old fashioned cold February day.

As the snow flurries will be coming to an end today. The problem is what we have for Friday and Saturday. 

Outside of mountain snow showers, it will be generally dry. But here’s the issue, we’ve got the wind picking up and this is going to be a problem for travelers.

Look at the wind picking up along I-25 and I-80 and the gap areas of northern Colorado and southern Wyoming’s mountain areas. 

We are going to have some blowing snow Friday along I-25 and along I-80 as we get into tomorrow and tomorrow night the winds will pick up in the Shirley Basin / Casper area as well.

If you have to travel, as we get into Friday and Saturday, the I-80 corridor and along I-25 will be something to watch for.

However, for today, Friday, and Saturday, other than snow showers over near the mountains, we’re looking for quiet weather.

The next weather event coming our way is something we need to watch for President’s Day weekend.

During the day Sunday, we will see snow break out across Wyoming’s western mountains. We have a storm that will swing in from the Pacific Northwest. 

As we get into Sunday night and Monday, we are going to see snow and you see it right here, the model will have it coming out on the plains.

We are going to have to watch out — especially in this area here for possibly some accumulating snowfall. Doesn’t look like a big storm but I do think the model might be underplaying the snow possibilities right here as we get into Sunday night and Monday.

We’ve got tomorrow to update you.

Bottom line is: good weather today. Be ready for the wind Friday and Saturday. Then late Sunday and President’s Day, here comes the next chance of snow. And it looks pretty cold again.

Thanks for watching the Day Weather podcast. Talk to you on Friday.

Don Day: Weekend Weather Forecast for Wyoming

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By Don Day

Wyoming’s weatherman Don Day looks ahead to the weekend with his weather forecast.

Don’t have time to watch the video? Here’s a rough transcript:

It’s Friday, February 7 you are watching to the Day Weather podcast.

The strong and moist jet stream winds coming in from the Northwest continue to slide through Wyoming and Colorado.

One and two feet of snow were reported in the mountains of southern Wyoming and northern Colorado last night.

Two feet of snow was reported at Jackson Hole Ski Area. In fact, Teton Pass is closed for avalanche control.

Some avalanche conditions around Alpine Junction, Wyoming. And we have avalanche warnings in affect for the mountains of central and northern Colorado.

The mountains will see probably see another foot of snow today, tonight, and early tomorrow.

For the lower elevations, a little bit of good news for some areas if you don’t like the snow. It does not look like the heavy snow will get into Cheyenne — probably about 1 -3 inches.

You can see the northwest to southeast trend of where the snow is falling. And notice the snow wants to fall in the mountains and close to the mountains. but we also have this wedge of snow extending into the I-25 corridor of Colorado and the I-70 corridor of Colorado, so you Front Range podcast listeners it looks like you might be receiving a bit more snow than expected. As the heavier snow has shifted more south than west.

This pattern will continue to produce snow and snow showers over the near mountains today and tonight but only light amounts once you get east of the Divide.

As we look forward, we see another system. This is the next system that comes late Saturday night and Sunday.

We have another chance for a little bit of light snow in the central and northern Rockies. But the amount isn’t very heavy.

There’s another little wave diving in with the jet stream from the northwest that will bring a shot of colder air to Colorado and Wyoming Saturday night and Sunday. And maybe a little more in the way of light snow.

This is the current jet stream pattern that we’re in right now.  This is going to continue to keep systems coming in from the Pacific Northwest and western Canada and riding thru the western United States.

Our pattern is going to remain active. And the door is open to Canada to keep us cold.

We will see the general trend of plain old-fashioned winter weather. Nothing brutally cold but just chilly and more episodes of snow chances will roll through the Rockies and High Plains off and on throughout next week.

There is nothing that we see that would bring a major snow event our way — just remaining wintry pattern.

Temperatures over the next 10 days. Huge contrast between the central and eastern United States and the colder wet conditions across the western United States.

That’s how things are trending.

Thanks for watching!

Wyoming Weather: Don Day Forecast for Wednesday

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This is a rough transcript of Don Day’s video podcast for Wednesday, February 5, 2020.

There’s a lot going on weather-wise.

Today, the wind is going to be picking up across the region. It will cause a concern for travelers as blowing and drifting snow is already a problem along I-80 and I-25, especially I-80.

We are in between weather systems today so it’s going to be fairly quiet. We’ll still have to deal with the gusty winds across the state again.

We go into Thursday and Friday, we’ve got another winter storm to talk about.

We have a unique combination of very strong jet stream winds bringing in Pacific winds and moisture and cold air on the ground working together to bring snow to most of the state and region.

The jet stream’s trajectory is coming off of the Pacific off of southern British Columbia and is diving south right across Wyoming and Colorado going right over the Continental Divide.

This is bringing in copious amounts of Pacific moisture right into the heart of the Divide and what’s also impacting things is that we’ve gotten colder. We’ve got cold air packed up along the Divide.

The strong jet stream winds cause the atmosphere to lift. The atmosphere is lifted even more over the mountains that squeezes out the moisture. The cold air provides a little bit of upslope along the Divide.

The pattern of northwest to southeast flowing jet stream winds produces a band of snow that goes right under it — it shadows it.

The snowfall forecast through Saturday morning — the snow is trending northwest to southeast across the area. That’s how the bands are setting up.

The pink and purple you see on the map over the mountain areas — this is going to produce a tremendous amount of snow in the Snowy Range and the Sierra Madres of Wyoming. 

Also the Big Horns, the Wind Rivers, the Yellowstone Plateau, and the Jackson area.

The purple area here from Casper to Laramie to Cheyenne to Saratoga and Rawlins and all the way to Denver.

This is a bit of different animal compared to what we’ve had lately. This snow will fall late Thursday, Thursday night, and into Friday and Friday night.

But across the northern half of Wyoming — the Big Horn Basin along the I-90 corridor. It will start as early as tonight.

While the snow in this area will go into full force on Thursday afternoon and overnight Thursday into Friday morning.

There will be tons of headaches for travelers, livestock interests — be prepared for cold, wintry weather conditions again.

These snowbands will migrate east and west. They will wiggle a little bit. This is what the model thinks the heavier snow will be. But the band could end up further east or west.

Right now, this is a good representation of where we think the heavier snow will fall.

The snow will move out by Saturday morning. But another small system could produce snow again on some areas on Sunday and Sunday night.

The hits keep on coming folks. The 10 day forecast. We are highlighting temperatures relative to average.

It will be very warm in the eastern and southeastern United States. You’ll hear on the news how there’s no winter going on. 

But look out west from the Dakotas to the Rockies even out to California. By next Friday, notice the severe cold that will continue. This not a little blip, this is a pattern that will be persistent that will go for the next week to 10 days.

We’ve got a lot of tough sledding to get through. If you are a snow lover, you’ll love this forecast for the next week to 10 days.

Don Day: How the Approaching Storm Will Impact Roads in Wyoming

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Wyoming’s weatherman Don Day says the forthcoming winter storm will highly impact travelers across the state. This could mean more road closures as we’ve seen over the past few days.

Day says the storm will begin affecting travel Sunday night and last through mid-day Tuesday.

That means much colder temperatures, snow, and blowing snow are all likely. Many areas of the state will drop well-below zero, he said.

Appropriate for Super Bowl Sunday, Don Day turns into a modern-day John Madden in his YouTube video with his own version of a telestrator.

You can watch the telestration (below) or we’ll walk you through it:

Sunday through Early Monday

Northern Wyoming

By sundown, expect to see snow forming along the Wyoming-Montana border near the Sheridan-area, Cody, Powell, and through the Yellowstone Park area.

Western and Central Wyoming

By midnight tonight, snow will expand to western and southwestern Wyoming. Snow will then move east through South Pass, into Lander, Casper, and near the Douglas areas.

By sunrise Monday, snow will be reaching Rock Springs and Green River.

Eastern Wyoming

Tonight through the morning hours on Monday, areas of fog and freezing drizzle will develop along and south of the Laramie Range impacting I-25.

Fog and freezing drizzle will also impact the summit between Laramie and Cheyenne and to both the Nebraska and Colorado state lines.  Look out for icy conditions on Sunday night and early Monday.

Monday Morning Through Mid-Day Tuesday

By Monday afternoon, all of Wyoming will experience snow, blowing snow, and falling temperatures. 

Look for snow throughout Carbon County and the south central portions of Interstate 80 including Rawlins, Laramie, Saratoga, and the Shirley Basin.

Expect considerable blowing and drifting of snow on Interstate 80 between Wamsutter and Rock Springs with strong winds.

Strong winds will also cause considerable blowing and drifting of snow along Arlington and Elk Mountain and between Laramie and Cheyenne on I-80.

Blowing snow will also occur along I-25 from Monday afternoon through Tuesday morning and out to the Nebraska and South Dakota border.

For more information, visit or call 511.

How Private Weather Companies Work with the National Weather Service

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A mezocyclone lightning storm with dark clouds forming over the plains in Tornado Alley.
A nighttime, tornadic mezocyclone lightning storm shoots bolt of electricity to the ground and lights up the field and dirt road in Tornado Alley.

By Ike Fredregill

Cowboy State Daily

The federal government provides the nation with free weather data, but most Americans get their day-to-day forecasts from private weather companies.  

“It goes back further than you would think — there’s always been some element of non-governmental weather services,” said Don Day Jr., DayWeather owner and meteorologist. “But, it really didn’t become more commercialized until the ’70s and ’80s.”

Newspapers, radio broadcasts and TV shows wanted specialized weather reports for their regions and graphics to illustrate what the data indicated, Day explained. 

Furthermore, private industries across the nation wanted the data interpreted to fit their needs.

“Quite honestly, the demand out there for specialized weather — the National Weather Service (NWS) wasn’t going to be able to handle everything,” Day said. 

Jonathan Porter, AccuWeather Vice President of Business Services and meteorologist, said private industry stepped up to meet the growing demand.

“This has been a real success story in terms of how companies work with their government,” Porter said. “People talk about public sector-private sector partnerships, and this is a scenario where the partnerships between the government and weather industry cost the American taxpayer nothing at all, because that data is already available, but (the partnership) yields huge benefits.”

By working with NWS to boost severe weather warning broadcasts, he said private weather companies could be helping save lives and reduce the economic impacts of significant weather events. 

Free to pay

To monetize free data, Day said private companies turned to traditional media outlets and special interest groups.

“A lot of private forecasting companies that were successful found a really good niche in TV and radio,” he said. “USA Today was a game changer. In the ’90s, they came out with this huge page with a color weather graphic for the whole country. All the sudden, if you were a daily newspaper in a medium-sized market, you had to have a weather page.”

While free, the data was raw and bulky. Weather companies translated the gobbledegook into localized data, added digestible graphics and used their expertise to interpret forecasts.  

“The federal government provides a very robust and rich set of weather data,” Porter said, adding AccuWeather also collects data from governments around the world. “We create value for our customers — over 1.5 billion a day in 200 different languages — by serving consumers the weather data they need for travel plans and their day-to-day lives. We also serve businesses, who use our specific insights about how weather could impact worker safety and business operations.”

In Wyoming, Accuweather provides weather data to railroad companies.

“Parts of Wyoming are certainly very windy,” Porter said. “We provide very specific warnings to railroad operators in terms of letting them know winds will be over 60 mph on this particular part of their track.”

Established under the U.S. Department of War in 1870, the Weather Service, which operates as part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), was assigned to the Department of Commerce in 1940, said Jared Allen, a NWS warning coordination meteorologist based in Cheyenne.

“We mainly support our core partners in emergency management,” Allen said, explaining the agency’s primary mission is public safety. “But we do work with local broadcasters and enhance that relationship as much as we can, so they understand how to look at our product, ensuring our message and their message are as similar as possible for the public’s ease of interpretability.”

Working together

The relationship between private and public weather services has not always been sunny, Allen said.

“On occasion there can be challenges,” he explained. “One instance involved some private companies putting out their own weather alerts.”

While providing weather alerts to niche interest groups doesn’t interfere with the NWS mission, Allen said private companies broadcasting weather alerts to the general public can cause confusion, which could result in injury or loss of life.

“Depending on how they brand that alert and whether it correlates with a NWS alert,” he said, “that can unfortunately set a precedent of the public needing multiple sources of information before taking preventive action.”

Another conflict arose when President Donald Trump nominated Barry Lee Myers, a former AccuWeather chief executive, to run NOAA in 2017. Experts predicted that Myers being involved with the family-owned and operated AccuWeather would create a conflict of interest. While under Myers’ leadership, the company supported measures to limit the extent to which federal weather services could release information to the public, potentially allowing private companies to generate their own value-added products using the same information.

Myers’ nomination was stalled until 2019, when Myers withdrew because of health concerns. 

“There certainly has been growing pains about how to work together effectively,” Porter said. “But there’s been a realization over time that we can accomplish a lot more by working together.”

Day said his peers have bumped heads with the federal government on occasion, but he maintains a healthy working relationship with the feds.

“I have no problems with the weather service, and nine out of ten times we don’t compete for customers,” he explained. “But my position as a private weather forecaster is very different from others.”

If the government didn’t readily share its weather data, Day said he would be out of a job.

“There is a heavy reliance on government-provided data, no doubt,” he said. “Without the tax-funded, weather forecasting infrastructure, I’d have nothing.”

For AccuWeather, Porter said many of the past conflicts between private and public weather forecasters arose from lack of clarity.

“Especially in the ’80s and ’90s… there was not a clear understanding as to what the different parts of the weather community should be doing,” he said, explaining public and private forecasters were competing to produce the same information to the same demographics. “After we realized the need for establishing swim lanes — what the academic community would focus on, what private industry would focus on and what the government would not be focused on — that concept has been embraced by the American Meteorological Society.”

Despite some turbulence, Porter said the weather community’s current relationship is healthy and strong.

“There’s a tremendous amount of passion in the weather community to make a positive difference,” he said. “Few other fields have had as much success from a predictive capability as meteorology has had in terms of leveraging the science to improve society.”

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