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December 12, 2013 8:31 am

Wonderful Wyoming winter weather

Written by Don Amend

Winter has arrived.

I can tell because the thermometer outside our window sits at 8 below this morning as I write, and, compared to the temperatures on some recent mornings, that’s warm.

I’m not really surprised by this atmospheric visit from the polar regions. It is December, you know, and the sun’s daily visits have been short and are getting shorter. Winter is supposed to be here; consequently, it’s supposed to be cold.

Still, the arrival of sub-zero temperatures has been something of a shock. For one thing, they arrived so suddenly. One day, our noses were only lightly nipped by the cold air; the next day, icicles were forming in our mustaches — at least for those of us who have mustaches. Anyone who has lived here for very long is familiar with such drastic changes in temperature, but when it happens, it’s still a shock.

Another reason for the shock is that we’ve had a run of rather long autumns and mild winters lately. A few years ago, for example, I actually had roses blooming in my yard in late October. I even have a picture I took of a rose wearing a cap of snow that year. The snow melted, and the roses lasted another week or so before frost finally got to them.

Since we made the move to Powell 11 years ago, we have seen very few days with below-zero temperatures, so really cold days seem more shocking than they would have a decade or two ago.

Actually, I could argue that even this week’s cold temperatures weren’t really cold. Just ask around about the winter of 1978-79 if you want to hear about some really cold days.

Personally, I have spent most of my life living along the Big Horn River, where temperatures tend to be somewhat colder than they do here in Powell, and cold snaps tend to be longer, so I’ve seen a lot of cold weather. Throw in four winters spent in Laramie, and you can understand why I don’t get too depressed when the temperature drops to 10 or 15 below. It takes 25 below before I start to get concerned, and I’ve walked to work in temperatures approaching minus 40.

In fact, I used to enjoy bundling up in several layers and taking the dog for a walk before going to bed at night.

Enjoying such a walk, however, is only possible in the short term. After three or four days of 30-below temperatures, the thrill diminishes rather rapidly, and by the time a week has gone by, it gets downright aggravating.

Fortunately, though, the cold weather doesn’t usually last that long. The famous Wyoming wind is sure to come along, blow the cold air away and brings back warmer temperatures. Warmer is, of course, relative. After a few days of 30 below, a thermometer reading of 5 above tempts a guy to unzip his parka, if not remove it completely.

Well, age and other factors have caught up with me, and I’m not as resistant to cold as I was just a couple of years back, when I routinely walked down the alley from the Tribune office to the coffee shop without a coat and wearing a short-sleeved shirt.

Nevertheless, I still like cold weather, especially in December, because, as I said back a few paragraphs ago, it’s supposed to be cold this time of year. Changes in the weather help make life interesting.

Besides, there is a promise in the weather we’re experiencing now. The cold, along with the darkness of shorter days, will be temporary, and brighter, warmer days will come. We will enjoy them all the more because of the current cold.

In fact, as I write this, my thermometer reads 8 below, but the forecast is for warmer temperatures. By the time you read this, the temperature may be in the 30s. At that temperature, you might even forget to put your coat on.

But, this is Wyoming, and it’s still December, so you probably shouldn’t do that.

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