Smoke from wildfires in northern Alberta has drifted down into Montana and Wyoming in recent days.
"The smoke has worked pretty hard to reduce visibility in the last couple of days," says Kelly a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Riverton. "It’s not having a whole lot of effects otherwise in terms of particulates in the air or other health effects because the smoke is coming from so far away.”
A tornado that touched down on Casper Mountain Friday afternoon caught forecasters by surprise. Trevor LaVoie, with the National Weather Service, says the storm systems moving through Natrona County today didn’t show any signs of producing tornadoes.
“These types of storms are more general thunderstorms in nature," LaVoie says. "We’re not really seeing a lot of heavy rain, they’re short-lived, and their depth is relatively shallow. They’re only about 15,000 feet thick.”
The tornado wasn’t visible on radar, but it was reported by numerous observers.
Wyoming’s first major snow storm of the season is expected to dump up to a foot of snow in the northern part of the state by Friday night. But meteorologist Mike Weiland says most of the state will see less -- only about 7 inches.
The storm front is moving down from the Pacific Northwest, bringing lots of moist, Arctic air with it. Weiland says October is typical for the first snow, but that it does tend to take people by surprise.
Last year’s drought could impact the Wyoming water supply this summer.
The National Weather Service says that, although recent storms have helped replenish mountain snowpack, there might not be enough to get back to normal levels of runoff, which is state’s most common water source for crops and municipalities.
NWS Hydrologist Jim Fahey says that’s because the upper soil levels were parched by the drought and will likely absorb much of the runoff. Fahey says this could become especially problematic for some people during the summer months.
It’s early in the season, but a few prescribed burns have already spread out of control.
Meterologist Chris Jones of the National Weather Service in Riverton says one recent case involved an effort to clear weeds along fence line. Wind spread the fire into a trash pile.
Fire fighters responded and no structures were damaged. But with warmer winds and last year’s drought and subsequent drier soil, Jones expects that more such fires could occur without proper preparation.
Wyoming has experienced record high temperatures this month – in some cases more than 20 degrees above average. The National Weather Service says that’s because winter storms coming in from the west have been following slightly different tracks than usual.
“The lows that have developed have either gone way to our south or have gone to our north,” said Chuck Baker, a lead forecaster in Riverton.