weather

The sugar beet harvest is underway across the Mountain West.

It’s a big industry that depends on accurate weather forecasts and a reliable workforce – both impacted by COVID-19. 

A few weeks ago, rancher Noah Brooks said what was troubling him most was the weather.

“The fact that it didn’t rain, June, July, August but maybe three times, that this community runs around cattle and feed and if we don’t get some rain, we’re in big big trouble, and I think that we’re drying out,” he said.

Brooks lives in Clark, Colorado. But the conditions he describes are persistent throughout the region.

Firefighters have long studied how fires behave to figure out where they’re going and how to keep people safe. But wildfires are becoming more unpredictable.


Casper Star-Tribune

Last week's unusual September snowstorm wasn't great for plants.

Assistant Extension Educator for Horticulture at University of Wyoming Donna Hoffman said there are a lot of broken branches on trees, and flowers that were not protected are probably done growing for the season.

Bob Beck

So far, Northwest Wyoming sugar beet producers are happy with their harvest. 

While this week's winter storm had a potential to threaten the crops, Western Sugar Cooperative's Randall Jobman, the north region vice president of agriculture at Western Sugar Cooperative, said thankfully it didn't get cold enough. 

The Science Behind Utah’s Big Wind Storm

Sep 10, 2020

The wild winds that swept across Northern Utah Monday and Tuesday were caused by a storm system and cold front that came down from Canada, according to Meteorologist Christine Cruz with the National Weather Service.

The system, which brought unusually strong winds, made its way through the central plains of the U.S. and into the Wasatch Front, she said.

“It was a very cold air mass behind that front and we were very warm ahead of it,” Cruz said. “We were in the 90s to even 100s ahead of it, and this air behind it was in the 30s and 40s.”

Matthias Krumbholz

Afternoon thunderstorms tend to happen in July and August across the mountain west. University of Wyoming Atmospheric Scientist Karen Kosiba said that's because it's monsoon season.

It's a situation nobody wants to imagine: a major earthquake, flood, fire or other natural disaster strikes while the U.S. is grappling with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

"Severe weather season, flooding — those things don't stop because we're responding to COVID-19," says Joyce Flinn, director of the Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

Wyoming Department of Transportation

The Wyoming Department of Transportation is reminding residents to use extra caution around snow plows on highways.

Jackson Hole Mountain Resort

Outlier weather events are growing more common globally, and Jackson Hole Mountain Resort in the Bridger-Teton National Forest is no exception.

It was a dry start to the year for some mountain ranges in the region, but recent storms brought most Mountain West snowpack levels back to normal.

 


The West’s water security is wrapped up in snow. When it melts, it becomes drinking and irrigation water for millions throughout the region. A high snowpack lets farmers, skiers and water managers breathe a sigh of relief, while a low one can spell long-term trouble.

A new study shows that global wind speeds have increased in the last decade, and that may allow wind turbines in the Mountain West to generate more clean energy.

Public Domain

Much of the Mountain West saw record breaking snowfall last year which was great news for the mountain resort industry. This year's snowfall may be less intense. 

As we head into the dog days of summer, 2019 is projected to be among the top five hottest years on record. That's according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

CC0, Public Domain

The Climate Prediction Center forecasts a warmer spring than usual in the Mountain West.

A recent report from NOAA’s National Centers for Environment Information shows there were 14 severe weather events across the country last year costing a total of $89.4 billion. Five of those affected the Mountain West region.

At least two states in the Mountain West have opened ski resorts early due to healthy dumps of snow. Many more are scheduled to open next week. This could be a good sign for our region’s economy this winter.

Areas all across the Mountain West, from Colorado's Front Range to Eastern Idaho, have seen their first real snowfall of the 2018-2019 season in the last week.

Remnants of a hurricane from the Pacific Ocean are dumping rain throughout the Mountain West region today and tomorrow.

Over the last 30 years, the West has seen an uptick in the size and frequency of forest fires. Scientists have typically attributed the change to low snowpack and high summer temperatures. But researchers writing in the journal PNAS say the trend could have more to do with rain.

Lauren Jaeger

Climate change is causing temperatures to rise, fanning the flames of wildfires across the region. But when it comes to extreme weather in the region, there’s a new kid on the block — tornados.  

Drought monitor outlook of Wyoming
Brian Fuchs / National Drought Mitigation Center

Wyoming is seeing slightly less drought now than this time last year, from 24 percent down to 20. But it’s still having an effect, especially since the state has experienced drought conditions for the last 20 years. Southern Wyoming is getting the worst of it, particularly in parts of Sweetwater and Carbon counties with abnormally dry conditions.

Four U.S. Senators are objecting to a program that teaches TV weathercasters about the science of climate change. As the Mountain West region deals with record high temperatures, that’s left meteorologists here figuring out how to report on the science of the weather.   

Mike Vanata

Albany County Emergency Management officials and national weather service representatives say there may have been more than one tornado that touched down near Laramie Wednesday night. Emergency Management Coordinator Aimee Binning said they reached that conclusion after an assessment of the damage.

Lauren Jaeger

After a tornado touched down just north of Laramie Wednesday evening, observers flooded social media with photos and videos of the twister, and the Washington Post called the picturesque storm “Tornado of the Year.”

WyDOT Photograph of Closed U.S. 287
Wyoming Department of Transportation

Due to heavy snow causing downed trees, nearly 3,000 people in Laramie lost power Thursday evening. Rocky Mountain Power is the town’s electricity provider. Dave Eskelsen, a media relations officer with Rocky Mountain Power, said several outages occurred. 

Ryan Stanley

Quick recovery is key to avalanche survival. Experts say that 93 percent of avalanche victims can be recovered alive if they are dug out within the first 15 minutes, but after that, the likelihood of survival declines drastically. That’s why wearing avalanche beacons and knowing how to use them is an absolute must for backcountry enthusiasts.

 

Sara Kirkpatrick

 

In early September the Virgin Islands were struck by two category five hurricanes fourteen days apart. Today, the islands' infrastructure remains badly damaged and nearly 73 percent of residents are still without power. A student from the University of Wyoming was in the Virgin Islands when Irma, the first of the two hurricanes, hit.

©UCAR. Photo by Carlye Calvin

The new supercomputer known as Cheyenne was officially dedicated at a ceremony Tuesday in the city it was named after. Governor Matt Mead, University of Wyoming President Laurie Nichols and Cheyenne Mayor Marian Orr were all in attendance, among other state leaders. Tony Busalacchi is the President of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research or UCAR. He said Cheyenne is the 22 most powerful in the world and three times stronger than the Yellowstone supercomputer it’s replacing.

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