weather

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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.

Researchers pulled up maps of forest wildfires from 1979 to 2016 and compared those maps against data on snow, rain, temperature and humidity.

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.

The Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team Blue

After a hefty dose of moisture this winter and spring, it may seem odd to worry about fires over the July 4th holiday. But Wyoming State Forester Bill Crapser warns more water means taller grasses that dry out as the summer wears on.

“We’re starting to see things dry out around the state,” he said. “In fact, for today and tomorrow, the south central part of Wyoming is in high fire danger. So in our state with the way the wind blows and with the warm days, it only takes a few days to start drying the fine fuels out.”

CREDIT PITCHENGINE COMMUNITIES / COUNTY10.COM

  

For years now, Fremont County in central Wyoming has been swamped with high waters that have damaged homes and highways. In 2011, the National Guard was even called in to help. But this year was different, even though rivers rose higher than ever before. 

Wyoming Public Radio’s Melodie Edwards sat down with Fremont County Emergency Management Coordinator Kathi Metzler and Information Officer Tammy Shrower to find out what everybody did right this time.

Snowpack Continues To Rise

May 23, 2017
Emmanuel Boutet

Wyoming’s snowpack has risen to the point where heavy flooding is more and more likely. 

State Hydrologist Lee Hackleman says snowpack has climbed from 115-percent of median to 176-percent.  Hackleman says the weather has him nervous.

"Well if it stays cool and rainy like this long enough, we know that when it warms up it’s gonna warm up fast and implications are that we will have some flooding then. We’d be better off if it was a little warmer now and we’d have a little better start on the melt out."

 

The cold, wet spring is delaying crop planting for farmers around Wyoming. Normally, almost 80 percent of sugar beets have been planted by now. But only 56 percent has been planted so far this year. 

Jeremiah Vardiman is an educator for the University of Wyoming’s northwest extension in Powell. He said farmers were finally able to get into the fields to plant most of the barley crop. But the plants aren’t growing very fast because it’s too cold.

Rocky Mountains, Wind River Range
Provided by Wikipedia

A flood watch is active in the north central part of Wyoming. Recent warm weather combined with a spring snow storm is speeding up the already high levels of runoff in the state’s mountains.  

Streams in the eastern and central part of the state are also beginning to run high: in the Shoshone, Big Horn, Wind, and Powder River Basins.  

In the Wind River Mountains, snow pack is 237-percent higher than usual according to the emergency management agency in Fremont County. 

Irina Zhorov

The potentially record-breaking snow storm hitting southeastern Wyoming is causing major impacts to travel and infrastructure. I-80 is closed between Laramie and Cheyenne, and Eastbound lanes of that interstate are closed between Laramie and Rock Springs. Several smaller highways in southern Wyoming have also closed due to winter conditions.

Pitchengine Communities

With most of the mountains in western Wyoming still covered in deep snow, communities downstream are bracing for the spring runoff. National Weather Service meteorologist Trevor LaVoie said it’s flooded along the Big and Little Wind Rivers every spring for the last six years. He said people living on the Wind River Reservation and in other communities along those rivers should begin preparing for flooding now.

Wyoming Department of Transportation

  

After heavy snowfall this winter, mountain snowpack is above average around most of Wyoming. Communities near the Bighorn, Wind River, and Gros Ventre mountain ranges have already seen flooding, and with temperatures continuing to rise more flooding could be in store. Wyoming Public Radio’s Caroline Ballard spoke with Diana Herrera, FEMA’s senior flood insurance specialist for Region 8 which encompasses the Rocky Mountain west, about how to prepare for potential flooding.

Wyoming Department of Transportation

Wyoming has already seen ice jam flooding this winter on the Bighorn River, and flood watches and warnings have been issued for communities around the Western Mountains in the last few weeks. With sustained warm temperatures and high snowpack, flooding could continue to be a problem this spring.

Diana Herrera is the senior flood insurance specialist with FEMA Region 8, which encompasses the Rocky Mountain West. She said people should be aware of their risk for flooding, and that there are a number of things that can reduce that risk.

Tennessee Watson

A winter storm this week brought even more snow to the Tetons and the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort closed Tuesday because of high winds and avalanche danger. But, those spiny peaks aren’t the only place in Wyoming where snow must be approached with caution. Fresh powder beckons snow enthusiasts to get out and play. Every year, Wyoming sees multiple fatalities from avalanches. All you need is the wrong combination of terrain, snow and weather, and there could be a problem.

Big Horn County Sheriff's Office / Facebook

Flooding in the town of Worland started to subside as an ice jam there finally cleared.

The Wyoming National Guard was called into the town on Saturday to help fill and stack sandbags, and about 100 homes were evacuated because of the water. Those people were allowed to return Tuesday afternoon, but Lieutenant Colonel Paul Phillips with the National Guard said they are keeping their eyes on the ice from that jam as it travels north.

Kenneth W Gerard

It turns out there can be too much of a good thing, even when it comes to snow in a ski town like Jackson.

Earlier this week, a series of winter storms caused the roof of a building that housed three businesses to collapse there. Then, Monday night, winds in excess of 90 miles an hour buckled about ten steel transmission poles, leaving several areas around Jackson without power, including Teton Village. About 3,000 people have been affected by the outage.

Irina Zhorov

After an extremely mild and dry fall, winter weather is finally making an appearance in Wyoming. Most of the state is under Winter Storm Warnings, Watches, and Winter Weather Advisories through tonight and Thursday, with the heaviest snowfall hitting Thursday morning. 

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