Why this Location for your Weather?



Our local weather is complex. Weather is heavily influenced by terrain, and we live in a place with varying altitudes, on the leeward side of a large chain of mountains and the foreside of the Great Plains, between the worlds two largest oceans, at a latitude half way between the equator and the north pole. Winter lows can be minus 50, and summer highs over 100. In the last 15 years, Lander has had an April weekend that produced 52 inches of snow, and another that had 95 degree high temperatures. That's complex.


The National Weather Service (NWS) is a branch of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Through it's 120 plus offices, one being in Riverton, the NWS is tasked with providing forecasts and warnings about the weather for the entire country.  They do this by taking data from 1000's of observation sites and running a series of models, or computer equations, that give a rough estimate of what is to come. That is then taken by a semi-local meteorologist and interpreted based on his/her knowledge of how it often unfolds in the given area. This is then posted on the NOAA Forecast site for your area, and is updated from time to time throughout the day.


That last little bit, the part about the local knowledge, is where we-climbers, sorta come up with the short straw. Our local meteorologist is assigned to figure out the weather for the majority of the people living in central Wyoming. He or she might mention "the Lander Foothills" or "the southern Wind River Range", but his/her main focus is on the towns and highways throughout the central part of the state. We climbers like to have forecasts for areas that are quite specific and decidedly not where most of the people of our state hang out. More to the point, our most popular climbing venues are in their own little microclimates that differ in temperatures and precipitation from the town of Lander.


You can, of course, use the NOAA Forecasting Map program to generate a prediction of the weather in Sinks Canyon. It will run the data and pump out a forecast for 42.7 degrees north, 108.8 west, and 8,000 feet. However,  it will not know, for instance, that the temperatures in front of the walls are often 10 degrees warmer than some random place at that altitude, or that a thin foehn cloud often forms over the canyon in January and filters out much of the warming solar energy. It wont register the direction the white cliffs of the Wild Iris face, or note the Venturi Effect on surface wind as it passes through the Rocky Mountain Gap south of South Pass. That requires a person who has experience with the area and who understands the basic principles of meteorology. Hopefully, I can be that person and this site can be where you get my forecast.


The plan for "Clime-On" is to make forecasts that are specific to Sinks Canyon and the Wild Iris, as well as a general area-forecast that helps us to plan climbing and resting days for the week. It can be used by anyone recreating in the area, but it is climber specific. I will try to do it every day and have the forecast up by 8:30 in the morning (I aim for 8, but Rome wasn't built in a day). If I'm out of town, you likely won't have an update. In mid summer it is unlikely there will be a forecast for Sinks, and in mid winter I likely won't give one for Wild Iris, as the realities of climbing in those two places at those times are pretty obvious. The likely text will be something like "Hot and Snakey" and the other "Too Damn Cold." I leave it to you to figure which goes where.


I have added lots of little links and such for various things that are related to the local climbing and weather scene. Let me know what you like and don't like about the site and I can update these. The best way to chat about "Clime-On" is to saddle up next to me at the Lander Bar, but you can also use the contact form on this site or get to me via Mountain Project.


Remember that forecasting is not an exact science. There are not thousands of parameters that can alter a forecast; there are millions. To paraphrase Ray Bradbury and Edward Lorenz, the flap of a butterfly's wings in China might influence a hurricane in America three weeks later. It is impossible to get it 100% right all the time. However, I will do my best, and hopefully you will enjoy using "Clime-On".




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