Outsiders don’t officially welcome fall until later this month, however, Wyoming seemingly skipped the colorful season altogether last week, instead welcoming its first snowfall of the year on Friday.
According to AccuWeather, varying levels of snowfall covered multiple locations across the Midwestern state beginning Thursday evening and persisting into Friday morning. Reports of the extremely early snowfall came from the National Weather Service office in Riverton, Wyoming.
Even more significant, the outlet reports it wasn’t just flurries that fell across the state, but a pretty significant amount of snowfall. In fact, Powder River Pass, located in northern WY among the Bighorn Mountains, was almost entirely covered in snow. Images, which you can view here, show roadways almost entirely covered in white powder.
Additional reports of snowfall came from South Pass, WY, which is located in the west-central region of the state. Residents in South Pass reportedly saw enough snowfall that visibility, at one point, was reduced to less than half a mile.
In addition to snow, the region also saw relatively cold temperatures. Though temperatures measured in the low 40s on Friday morning, the AccuWeather RealFeel recorded temperatures as low as the 30s.
For many Americans, a September snowfall comes as a shock. However, for Rocky Mountain states like Wyoming and Montana, snowfall this early is not unheard of. In fact, AccuWeather forecasters predict locals could see widespread snowfall ahead of the start of the meteorological winter.
How Snowfall Affects Wildfire Prevention in Colorado Rockies
As Wyoming prepares for what looks to be a cold and snowy winter, Outsiders farther south, specifically in the Colorado Rockies, are experiencing snowfall issues of their own, though in an entirely different, and potentially detrimental, way.
With global warming and rapid climate change having severe effects on our globe’s weather patterns, annual snowfall in the Colorado Rockies has begun melting earlier and earlier each spring. And with wildfire season in full swing this month in many areas of the Western U.S., we’ve got fire prevention heavy on our minds.
Ahead of every wildfire season, wildland firefighters work to prevent as many blazes from igniting in the fall as possible. They do so by lighting controlled burns, which clear natural tinder—namely dry, dead foliage. However, the annual snowfall aids in the maintenance of these fires, keeping the ground damp enough for firefighters to stay ahead of the intentionally lit blaze.
Now though, spring out West has become extremely short, and the snow is melting and drying up much more quickly than is ideal. As such, firefighters have to work even harder to get ahead of these controlled burns and clear them out before the ground completely dries. New Jersey State Climatologist David Robinson previously said climate change has begun “increasing the variability and extremes we are facing. Out West, once the season shifts, you get very dry, very quickly and it stays dry for months. So you have a real tight window [for controlled burns] there.”