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Preparing For Severe Weather Season

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The National Weather Service office in Riverton is marking National Severe Weather Preparedness Week this week with tips for Wyoming residents to remain safe in the months ahead.  Warning Coordination Meteorologist Chris Jones points out that the kinds of severe weather residents here face is somewhat unique depending upon what part of Wyoming you are in.  In Jackson, it is lightning that may be the biggest killer.  Jones says lightning is difficult to issue warnings for, so a lot of times they issue a special weather statement to highlight a lightning threat from a particular thunderstorm.  Jones says in mountainous terrain, “it is the biggest killer in Wyoming and we’ve had our fair share of incidents in the Tetons, and we want people to take appropriate action.”  Still, he says there are other threats that are of concern, like flash floods which can happen more readily after a severe fire season.  He says in areas where there have been fires – as we have had in the Jackson area last year – the soils are basically impenetrable.  Jones says that leads to a lot of run-off very quickly and it does not take a lot of rain to create a flash flood in those situations.  Even tornados, while extremely rare here, are not impossible in Teton County as evidenced by one in the late 1980s north of Togwotee Pass which remains the largest ever seen in Wyoming.  As the area sees the more unstable spring weather show up in another month or so, Jones says it is important that residents monitor radio and (in Teton County) Nixle for weather alerts.

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