Wyoming Wildlife magazine - 26

W

hen I was a teenager, a
family friend took me
on a late-November
elk hunt. My memory says the
snow was deep, probably about
12-15 inches. Turning off the main
highway, he stopped the pickup,
and said, " I'll need your help here. "
Getting out of the warm cab, I dutifully followed
him to the back of the truck and watched as he
unwrapped four heavy-duty tire chains. For the next
half-hour, we labored in the snow and cold to chain
up all the wheels.
" Why did you chain up? " I asked as we got into
the truck. " You don't even know whether you need
chains to get where we're going. "
" No one expects to get into trouble. Until you
are, " he said.
That nugget of wisdom has proven true several
times over the years, and as much as I try, there have
been times when I've found myself struggling to get
out of trouble. Each time, his words come to mind.

An underlying threat

Anytime someone sets out on the road, a hike, a
hunting or fishing trip, there is a consistent wildcard
that requires preparation to avoid getting into trouble:
weather. Wyoming offers grand landscapes, incredible
outdoor experiences and virtually unparalleled opportunities for adventure, and weather is an underlying
threat within each of those.
Be it cold temperatures, ripping winds, dramatic
snow or rain storms, parching heat or a combination
thereof, people must at a minimum prepare to stay
comfortable, or, as some people unfortunately learn,
to survive.
Sadly, some don't approach the outdoors ready for
changing weather, despite all the resources.
With instant access to weather forecasts on phones,
tablets and other media, it seems people shouldn't get
into trouble because of weather. Until they do.
26 | January 2021	

Consider the unseasonable snowstorm last September. The Casper Star-Tribune posted this story
on Sept. 10, 2020:
The Fremont County Search and Rescue team
has evacuated nine people who were stranded in
the Wind River Mountains during this week's
unseasonable winter storm.
All nine were airlifted to the Lander Airport
without incident, according to a press release from
the Fremont County Sheriff's Office. None of the
people were from Wyoming.
The rescues involved two men at Deep Creek
Lake and six men at Valentine Lake. On Wednesday, authorities also rescued a man near Atlantic
City who had been stuck near Rock Creek Hollow since Monday. He had been unsuccessfully
trying to dig himself out for two days, the press
release states.
Although the department didn't have any
pending rescue missions as of Thursday morning,
there are four people reported overdue from the
Cirque of Towers. However, reconnaissance flights
found no campsites near the cirque.
Was the storm a surprise? Were the people prepared
for such conditions? What if they hadn't been rescued?
Did they have the resources, food, clothing, shelter
and water to survive if they hadn't been airlifted? All
questions without easy answers. Yet, answers to each
give insight into being prepared for all possibilities.
The old saying, " If you're tired of the weather in
Wyoming, wait a half-hour, it will change, " has value
because weather is constantly shifting. Forecasting
weather is an inexact science, relying on the complex
mutual interactions of wind, currents, precipitation,
humidity and temperature variations, and a million
other variables across Wyoming's landscape stretching
from seemingly endless sagebrush desert to craggy
skylines. And yet, weather forecasting has improved
dramatically, with 80 percent reliability for threeday forecasts according to the National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration. Those are stellar odds.
Gamblers in Las Vegas would strike it rich with those
odds, until they don't.
That point was driven home to me several years
ago when our local forecast called for 5-6 inches of
snow. Imagine my surprise when I opened the garage
door and faced 40 inches of the wet stuff. Forecasters
predicted a fast-moving storm, but it didn't move after



Wyoming Wildlife magazine

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Wyoming Wildlife magazine

Wyoming Wildlife magazine - 1
Wyoming Wildlife magazine - 2
Wyoming Wildlife magazine - 3
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Wyoming Wildlife magazine - 5
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https://www.nxtbook.com/wyominggame/WyomingWildlife/march-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/wyominggame/WyomingWildlife/february-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/wyominggame/WyomingWildlife/January2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/wyominggame/WyomingWildlife/December2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/wyominggame/WyomingWildlife/September2020
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