Powell, WY


Humidity: 66%

Wind: 32 mph

High winds pummel Clark area

CLARK — Gale-force winds buffeted Clark this past week — with some gusts reaching the speed experienced in a major hurricane.

National Weather Service data says gusts ripped through the Clark community at speeds of up to 103 miles an hour early on Saturday, Nov. 22.

“Even for Clark, I think that’s a big deal,” said Trevor LaVoie, an NWS meteorologist in Riverton, in a Monday interview.

Clark got an even bigger deal on Black Friday, when gusts hit a staggering 117 miles an hour around 11:45 a.m.

“In comparison an EF1 Tornado has wind gusts of 86-110 MPH,” the NWS Riverton office posted on its Twitter page.

Sustained wind speeds of 60 miles an hour were recorded in Clark around 10 a.m. and 11:45 a.m. That's breezy enough to qualify as a storm on the Beaufort Wind Scale, where trees are uprooted and structural damage becomes likely.

“A combination of very strong mountaintop winds, and a tight pressure gradient resulted in damaging winds across the Absaroka Mountains and adjacent Cody foothills,” the NWS reported in a Friday morning statement.

Cody was hit with gusts of up to 82 miles an hour Friday morning, which resulted in some downed trees and power outages in the city of Cody, the weather service said. Powell was relatively calm, with morning gusts at the Powell airport peaking at 60 miles an hour.

It was just one part of a windy week, particularly in Clark. Howling winds had also hit Clark on Tuesday morning.

Saturday, Nov. 22, had brought sustained speeds of 43 miles an hour at a 5:20 a.m. peak, around 4:15 a.m. Tuesday, sustained wind speeds peaked at 46 miles an hour, and Friday's weather topped them both with the 59 mile an hour sustained breezes.

Saturday's and Tuesday's weather events qualified as gales: powerful enough to break twigs from trees, to make walking a challenge and to cause cars to veer on the road.

A hurricane brings sustained winds of 90 miles an hour or more. Gusts topped that hurricane level at least six separate times between 4:19 and 6:20 a.m. Saturday, then did so two more times around 4 a.m. Tuesday, and at least 13 times between 4 and 10:30 a.m. Friday.

A major Category 3 hurricane sustains wind speeds of more than 110 miles an hour.

Clark frequently experiences high wind.

“They’re used to getting 70 to 80 (mile an hour gusts) out there,” said LaVoie in a Monday interview.

Not only do breezes come off the Absaroka Mountains, often they’re generated when air around the Clark area is cooler than parts of the Big Horn Basin to the east, he said.

“If you get really cold air trapped on the west side and then you get warming temperatures on the basin side, then you’re going to have that temperature diference — in addition to any strong winds (present) at 10,000 feet or above,” LaVoie said. “Usually that’s going to help produce those kind of winds.”

LaVoie suggests commonsense precautions in advance of high winds, including making sure outdoor furniture is securely stored, closing up buildings that face the winds and protecting yourself from wind chill.

Strong winds also can make traveling dangerous for lighter and higher-profile vehicles.

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