weather

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. 

Pitchengine Communities / County10.com

Over the weekend, the Little Wind River reached its third highest peak on record, causing flooding that’s left many on the Wind River Reservation and in Fremont County displaced.

The Red Cross of Wyoming has opened an evacuation center at the Riverton Fairgrounds for the nearly 300 people affected by the flooding. Spokeswoman Pat Kondas says, people need to stay ready to evacuate as late as through the middle of this week.

Wikipedia Creative Commons, by Greg Younger

A heavy snowstorm that will bring several inches of snow to western, northern and central Wyoming is heading into the state.

National Weather Service meteorologist Chris Hattings in Riverton is keeping an eye on the storm.

“It looks like the main trouble spot is mostly going to be in the central portion of the state. The most snow will be from Lander-Riverton and running through Casper and Douglas. And also, obviously, in some of the higher elevations from the Wind River range over to Casper Mountain.”

National Weather Service Riverton

Wyoming is seeing some of its famous wind today in a weather event that has sustained winds of 40 to 50 miles an hour, and could produce gusts in excess of 75mph around the state. A winter storm system that has dumped several inches of snow on the western mountains is causing the wind.

Trevor LaVoie is a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Riverton. He says driving in wind like this is risky, but for now, that is the only factor.

Stereogab / Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0

Harvest data is rolling in from around the state, and so far, it appears to have been a bountiful year. A wet summer and dry September were especially helpful for beans, corn and livestock pastures in Wyoming, according to Rhonda Brandt with the National Agriculture Statistics Service.

Wikipedia Commons

Smoke is in the air in Northern and Eastern parts of the state. But that haze isn’t from Wyoming, it’s coming from wildfires burning in Alaska and Canada.

Ralph Estell with the National Weather Service in Riverton says Canada’s fire season has started off very differently from Wyoming’s.

"We’ve had a pretty wet end of spring beginning of summer time period. It’s been pretty dry up there and their fire season has kind of exploded because of that," says Estell.

So far, 13,000 residents in Saskatchewan have been evacuated because of the fires.

David Koch

For some Wyoming residents, Memorial Day weekend means enjoying the season’s first drive over a mountain pass that’s been closed all winter. Barring any major snow storms, Wyoming Department of Transportation says most seasonal closures over the state’s mountain passes should re-open in time for Memorial Day weekend.

District engineer Pat Persson manages snow removal on the Snowy Range between Laramie and Saratoga. He says it’s been an easier job this year than year’s past because the snow pack isn’t as deep. But he says, a snowstorm could still quickly move in and slow progress.

Wikimedia Commons

The director of the Wyoming’s chapter of the Conservation Fund, Luke Lynch, was killed in an avalanche on Sunday. Lynch and three others had ascended Mount Moran in Grand Teton National Park when a wet slab swept them off the mountain. One other man was seriously injured but two others survived to make a rescue call.

Park spokeswoman Jackie Skaggs says it was the accumulation of fresh snow on top of winter snowpack that created the dangerous conditions.

Timothy Haase

If it has felt like an especially warm winter, you’re not imagining things. This year has been the third warmest winter on record in Wyoming. That’s according to the National Weather Service in Riverton. Meteorologist Chris Jones says all these balmy temperatures have been caused by a persistent ridge of high pressure along the Pacific Coast. He says temperatures have been as much as six degrees higher than normal, especially on the Western side of the state. And there are no signs that they will return to average in the next month.

Aaron Schrank/WPR

A funnel cloud prompted a brief tornado warning in Cheyenne on Wednesday.The National Weather Service sounded the alarm at about 2 p.m., soon after the funnel dropped down from a small thunderstorm in the high country west of town. Minutes later, the funnel dissipated without touching down - though not before several people snapped photos of the twister and posted the images online. The storm caused nothing worse than some light rain in the capital city. Sheriff's officials say no damage was reported.

  

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Snowpack around the state is above average this year. Tony Bergantino, a climatologist with the Wyoming State Climate Office, says it’s the highest snowpack on record in five of Wyoming's basins. 

“They’re all above normal, and up in the upper northwest and southwest and in the central part of the state, they’re at the lowest,” se says. “And that’s still about 114-115 percent of normal.”

Bergantino says the snowy winter has brought most of the state out of drought conditions.  

Walt Hubis / Flickr - Creative Commons

The floods in Colorado could cause a spike in hay prices, which could be good and bad news for Wyoming ranchers.

Many Colorado ranchers lost their season’s hay supply in the deluges that swept across the eastern plains.  And that means many Colorado ranchers will likely turn to Wyoming hay producers to feed their livestock through the winter, if they have livestock left to feed.

Brett Moline with the Wyoming Farm Bureau says this might cause the price of hay to rise on the market.

A flash flood warning is in effect near Rockspring, there’s a flash flood watch across much of Western and Central Wyoming, and more rain is expected through the weekend. 

Stereogab / Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0

After last year’s crushing drought, wetter weather is helping crops recover, and prices are dropping.
 

US corn yields are up, according to IHS, Inc., a company that publishes stock market industry data. The company expects corn and soybean prices to drop by 10 percent in the third-quarter of this year.


Brett Moline of the Wyoming Farm Bureau says that means it’s cheaper for feed lots to finish more cattle, which is good news for cattle ranchers. 

Associated Press

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.

Unseasonable weather equally likely to stay or go

Jan 23, 2013

This year has been unusually dry so far, and the National Weather Service says it’s not clear if – or when – that trend will change.

Meteorologist Trevor LaVoie says it’s equally likely that the next few months will be wetter than usual, drier than usual, or just average.

“There’s no el niño or there’s no la niña phase that’s currently in the outlook,” LaVoie said. “So there’s no signal to say one way or the other that we’re going to be above or below average.”

Warm weather has caused Casper’s Hogadon Ski Area to postpone its opening day. The slopes were set to open this Saturday, but Anna Wyttenback of Casper’s Leisure Services Department says they’ll push it back more than a week in hopes of some 15° or colder days, when they can start making snow. Wyttenback says Hogadon isn’t worried about its ski season yet.

“I think we’ll cross that bridge as we get there, but we’re definitely hoping for a snowfall like we had last winter. And we’ll just have to wait a little further into December and see how that goes.”

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.