Wyoming Wind at 80 MPH Knocks Down Century-Old Tree onto Don Day’s Truck

Wyoming experienced another round of its notorious winter windstorms on Monday, following a weekend where trucks were being blown over on state highways due to gusts reaching speeds of up to 80 mph. The powerful winds posed a threat to everyone in their path.

Even the weatherman can’t always predict the weather accurately.

On Saturday, during the peak of the weekend’s strong winds, Cowboy State Daily’s very own meteorologist, Don Day, stepped outside his Cheyenne residence only to discover a massive 100-year-old cottonwood tree had unexpectedly shed a large branch directly onto his truck.

For some, it may seem like bad luck, but others may view it as a case of poetic justice for a weatherman.

“It wasn’t just a branch,” Day remarked. “In reality, it was more like half of a tree.”

Day hasn’t had a chance to assess the damage yet, but as far as he knows, there is no mechanical damage. He is still able to drive the vehicle, at least for now.

Day has consistently downplayed the intensity of the 2023-2024 winter season, describing it as unpredictable but not particularly extraordinary. Even though the damage caused by the cottonwood tree has not influenced his perspective.

Day, with a touch of irony, acknowledges that the tree striking his truck serves as a fitting reminder that even the weatherman can be caught off guard.

Strong, But Not That Strong

On Saturday, Day’s truck took a different route, and during that time, Cheyenne experienced its highest recorded wind speed of 66 mph. According to the National Weather Service Office in Cheyenne, the strongest wind gust in the state that day was 84 mph in Bordeaux, located 60 miles north of the capital city.

55 mph winds swept through Laramie, while Vedauwoo was rocked by gusts reaching 73 mph. The notorious Interstate 80 corridor near Elk Mountain experienced winds of 65 mph. On Monday, High Wind Warnings persisted across southeast Wyoming, as well as in the Bighorn and Wind River Mountains.

According to Day, the windstorms that occurred over the weekend were indeed strong. However, he considers them to be an unusual occurrence for this winter season, and not particularly noteworthy.

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Anecdotally, we haven’t had as many high wind warnings this winter compared to previous winters. However, it is worth noting that the high wind events we have experienced were not out of the ordinary.

Wyoming is already known for its geographical characteristics that make it a natural wind tunnel. The residents of Wyoming are no strangers to experiencing strong winds, which persist throughout the year.

Day isn’t increasing the wind in the sails because he doesn’t view the strong wind gusts recorded over the weekend as unusual. Even though high wind events are typically more frequent during this season, Day doesn’t consider the recent gusts to be out of the ordinary.

According to him, it is common to experience wind gusts of 60-70 mph during these winter events.

A Story Of Fire And Ice

On Saturday, it wasn’t just Day who experienced issues with their vehicle. A wildfire that was rapidly spreading near Cheyenne caused the temporary closure of I-25. Multiple agencies came together to combat the flames, which were as high as 6 feet.

The fire spread rapidly due to the strong winds, and many individuals expressed concern over the worsening conditions caused by the persistent dryness. However, Day holds a different perspective, noting that the weather in southwest Wyoming hasn’t been excessively dry this year.

According to an expert, Cheyenne has experienced multiple snow events and higher-than-average precipitation in February. He explains that the prairie grasses are still dormant, resulting in dead grass from the winter. This combination of dead grass without snow cover, strong winds, and an ignition source like a person or machinery increases the risk of grass fires in the area.

The cause of the fire on Saturday has not yet been determined, but it is most likely due to human activity or machinery. We can eliminate the possibility of lightning as a factor, as it was a windy but mostly sunny day in Cheyenne.

The absence of snow cover on the Wyoming plains doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s worryingly dry. According to Day, this is actually a result of the strong winds that are common in the area.

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According to the expert, once you move east of the mountains in this region, you enter a chinook zone. These are westerly winds that descend and warm up the air. As a result, snow cover doesn’t stick around for long in this area since the chinook winds have the ability to melt it away.

‘What Have You Done For Me Lately?’

Wyoming has experienced a rather unpredictable winter season, earning it the nickname “whiplash winter” by Day. The recent windstorms over the weekend were just another example of the harsh conditions brought about by this tumultuous season, with more challenges yet to come.

Winter Storm Warnings are now replacing the High Wind Warnings, particularly in the mountains of western Wyoming. Although there is currently no official National Weather Service (NWS) warning for wind, Day expects strong winds on Tuesday.

According to Day, there will be snowfall in most parts of the state tonight and tomorrow. However, he also mentioned that the approaching front will bring strong winds along with it.

Higher elevations in Teton and Park counties, as well as Yellowstone National Park, may receive a snowfall of 12 to 18 inches from Monday night to Tuesday. Meanwhile, lower elevations can expect around 4 to 6 inches of snow. The National Weather Service offices in Cheyenne and Riverton have provided these forecasts.

Temperatures in the Cowboy State are set to take a noticeable dip.

On Monday, Cody will experience a high temperature of 55 degrees, but this will drastically drop to 21 degrees on Tuesday. In fact, the overnight low temperatures will reach the single digits. Similarly, Casper will also undergo extreme temperature fluctuations, with daytime highs ranging from 53 degrees on Monday to 23 degrees on Tuesday.

Johnson and Natrona County residents may be greeted with a blanket of up to 4 inches of snow when they wake up on Tuesday morning. Similarly, Lusk and other areas in eastern Wyoming may experience a lighter dusting of around an inch. However, the snowy scenery will come with a significant drop in temperatures, as the daytime high on Tuesday is expected to reach a chilly 21 degrees, in stark contrast to the relatively warm 58 degrees experienced on Monday.

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Buffalo is in for a rough time with the sudden change in weather. The temperatures will drop significantly, going from a high of 55 degrees on Monday to a mere 15 degrees on Tuesday. In addition to the cold, Buffalo can also expect up to 5 inches of snow.

According to Day, Wyoming can expect colder temperatures and heavier snowfall on Tuesday. Not only that, but the wind is also expected to be quite strong and persistent, possibly lasting beyond Wednesday.

According to the meteorologist, he clarified that the wind is not expected to cease completely. However, he did mention that it will weaken by Thursday and Friday, although it will still maintain a significant force until Wednesday.

“People and weather have a tendency to focus on what has been done for them recently. So, what have we done for them lately?” Day pondered. “Well, it has been quite windy and warm. However, let’s not forget that just two weeks ago, many places were covered in snow and the temperatures were much colder. It’s amazing how quickly things can change.”

Wyoming’s wet season is just around the corner, promising a refreshing change amidst the potential for further winter turbulence. As the state prepares to embrace the upcoming months, it can expect a splash of rejuvenating water to awaken its senses.

Wyomingites should prepare themselves for a potential turbulent transition from winter to spring in the coming weeks. While the weather in Wyoming is unpredictable, it is not uncommon for the end of winter and the beginning of spring to bring about sudden and drastic changes.

According to the Wyoming weatherman, his pickup truck has half a cottonwood splintered across the back.

According to the expert, this winter has been quite unpredictable and full of ups and downs. He confidently stated that winter will not go down without a fight, indicating that there is still more winter weather to come.

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