The season called ‘sprinter’ chilled most of USA


Both in the movie business and the book business, there is the concept of “false ending,” where you as the viewer or reader think the story is over. Not so. Later the ultimate ending arrives. Just about every movie or book uses this device.  

This also applies to Wyoming’s weather during this time of year.

As part of our recent travels during this wet and crazy spring, I heard an expression by an Omaha TV weather reporter, who kept referring to their all-time record cold weather as coming after they had had a “false” spring. 

I like that term for spring. My favorite way to describe Wyoming’s four seasons is: Almost Winter, Winter, Still Winter and Construction. 

Lander Mayor Del McOmie shared a funny weather description that he found on the Wyoming Going Blue Facebook page, which is all about law enforcement in the state.

It included 12 seasons included one really cool season they called “sprinter,” which pretty much covers right now.  Here is their list of the 12 seasons:

1. Winter

2. Arctic Freeze

3. Second winter

4. Spring of Deception

5. Semi Truck tipping season

6. Sprinter

7. Actual spring (lasts two weeks)

8. Construction season

9. Torrential downpour

10. Cheyenne Frontier Days – hail season

11. Summer

12. Pre-Winter – Fall Snow

We had scheduled an extended motorhome trip crossing the south from Las Vegas to Flagstaff to Albuquerque to Santa Fe to Oklahoma City to Dallas and then north to western Iowa. The trip worked out well and we saw many relatives and friends. But this year’s wacky weather was not limited just to Wyoming. Flagstaff had blizzards.  Dallas had hail and near freezing temps. Golf-ball-sized hailstones pummeled the car I tow behind our RV.

We timed the trip to end up in Iowa, figuring they would have a normal spring. Not so.  Temperatures were all time lows with snow and hail. We finally got out of there on the one nice day and made it to Cheyenne. It was a long pull but worth it. 

So there we were, stranded in Cheyenne, spending the night in our motorhome at the Terry Bison Ranch RV Park. We were trying to get home to Lander but the weather was typical Wyoming Spring – here came the winds!

Three semi trucks and a camper were on their sides just south of Cheyenne as the winds roared 75 mph for a direct hit on high profile vehicles on Interstate 25. Some reports said 88 mph gusts were blowing over these rigs on Wyoming Hill. More than a dozen rigs were overturned statewide. 

We desperately wanted to get home but not on Tuesday, April 17.

Now, there are two ways to get to our home from Cheyenne. The shortest route is Interstate 80 through Laramie, Rawlins and Jeffrey City.  

A slightly longer way (45 minutes longer) is north from Cheyenne to Wheatland, Douglas, Casper and Riverton then home.  

So, here I sat in front of my laptop on a spectacular Tuesday morning (April 17) checking roads and forecasts.  You just cannot make this stuff up.

Blizzards and rainstorms are issues when driving a 13-foot high motorhome, but crosswinds are the biggest hazard.  It is just too dangerous. We are at a time in our lives where we would rather wait a day than “have to” get home. Here is what I found:

Snow was predicted in Casper, Riverton and Lander. Crosswinds of 50 mph were forecast for Wheatland. The moisture was coming out of the north as Worland and Powell and the rest of the Big Horn Basin were going to get wet with rain and snow. 

Thus, the Interstate 25 route was not going to work on this day. 

So what about the Snow Chi Minh Trail on Interstate 80? The TV stations had blocked out all of SE Wyoming as “dangerous high winds.”  With no “high profile” traffic recommended. This meant that Cheyenne to Rawlins was unsafe for me, anyway, and that area north of Rawlins often features terrible cross winds. 

I really like the Wyoming Department of Transportation weather forecast maps, which showed most roads “green” on this day, which would normally be welcomed. But not when driving a vehicle that is quite susceptible to toppling over.

Cheyenne to Laramie looked OK, but Laramie to Rawlins was the typical Snow Chi Minh Trail forecast: high winds and blowing snow. 

As a result, we stayed another night in our favorite capital city before getting home.

Check out additional columns at www.billsniffin.com. He has published six books.  His coffee table book series has sold 30,000 copies. You can find them at www.wyomingwonders.com.

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