Wyoming is seeing more wind

Bill Sniffin


o doubt about it — we are getting more wind today than ever before in history. I hear people saying that all over Wyoming, in Utah, in Nevada, and even in Dallas, Texas, during this long windy spring. 

No matter where we have been over the past few months, local winds have almost blown us away. 

My topic today is about traveling all around the Wild, Wild, West by car and by motorhome, and let me tell you, the wind is blowing everywhere. And blowing hard!

Wherever I was, I was blamed for bringing with me that notorious Wyoming wind. 

We saw semi’s on their sides on both Interstate 25 and Interstate 80 in Wyoming. North of Las Vegas, we saw a motorhome and large fifth wheel camper in the median, blown over. On Interstate 40 in New Mexico, we saw semi-trucks backed up for 20 miles near Gallup because a semi had jackknifed in the winds. In Arizona, traffic was stopped by blistering sandstorms. Everywhere we went — the wind blew and blew and blew some more.

It seems everyone everywhere was complaining “the wind is blowing a lot more nowadays than it used to.” I totally agree. It sure seemed windier to me where ever I was in recent months. 

Superstar Cowboy State Daily weatherman Don Day shrugs all this off with a chuckle, when someone complains to him about how much more windier it is this spring. “I politely tell them, no, this has not been the worst year for wind. Don’t you remember last winter/spring?”

Day says: “I have encountered a phenomenon with people and weather. People seem to remember the most recent major weather event(s) and seem to forget what happened with the weather just one or two years ago.”

So, has this winter/spring been windier than average?

Day says the answer is yes, but it has been the last five weeks of wind that has pushed people over the edge — not so much the wind between November and February.

He reminds us that March/April on average is one of the windiest times of the year in this region.

Day offers up a logical explanation: “Back to why it is so windy — I know folks are tired of me saying ‘La Niña’ but La Niña (which has been going on for more than two years now) is a major culprit in our high winds. La Niña is when the subtropical Pacific Ocean (along the equator) is cooler than average, especially for long periods of time. It has nothing to do with climate change, it is the colder water that helps induce the high winds and dryness. It sounds counterintuitive but colder water in the subtropical Pacific usually means warmer, drier, and windier weather in western North America.”

I’ll let Don Day have the last words when it comes to all this wind:

He says: “When this state and region get hit with high winds it is usually from two types of patterns.

“First, strong west to east jet stream winds that run perpendicular to the Continental Divide — this causes the wind to be squeezed through the mountain gaps (i.e. Elk Mountain, Muddy Gap, etc.) causing strong wind events. La Nina helps to form very fast-moving jet stream winds. This is one reason for the drought, storms, and fronts move through fast, not having time to drop good amounts of rain/snow.

“Second, intense winter/spring storms that move on top or just north of the state. This pattern (the blizzards in ND/MT) has been responsible for the high wind. When strong low-pressure systems form in the region and pass to our north, the big difference in air pressure bring intense wind that can go on for days. This is common, especially in the spring. So, this spring, the high number of intense storms moving through the Pacific NW, MT, ND, NE WY brings very strong winds to the rest of WY, UT, CO, NE, NM, TX, OK. 

“This spring the number of these intense spring storms is higher, which is ultimately good news for our friends to the north (moisture), while the rest of the region gets pummeled by the wind. When storms pass to our south (CO, NM) we don’t get the high winds.”

He concludes: “By this time next year, La Niña will be gone but I can guarantee you someone will walk up to me and say: ‘I swear this is the worst year of wind I can remember. It’s been awful!’”


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