After a long, hot summer, the Powell area saw temperatures soar on Saturday. Then, the area got a sudden taste of winter when a cold front moved in Monday morning, sending temperatures down below …
After a long, hot summer, the Powell area saw temperatures soar on Saturday. Then, the area got a sudden taste of winter when a cold front moved in Monday morning, sending temperatures down below freezing. Fortunately for agriculture, the dip was short lived, and the region is returning to warmer weather.
Powell has a cooperative weather station in town, but temperatures aren’t posted daily. So, it’s hard to know exactly where the thermometer sat through the Labor Day weekend.
However, “We’re in the ballpark both for record lows the last few days and a record high back on Saturday,” said Chris Jones, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Riverton.
Jones said record highs for the first 10 days of September are in the range of 91 to 95 degrees.
The temperature on Saturday at the Powell airport’s weather station, which updates daily, showed a high of 96 degrees.
The cold front moved in Monday at about 6 a.m. Record lows for this time are in the range of 30 to 36 degrees. At the airport, the low on Monday was 32, with lows of 30 on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The Cody airport hit a record high of 96 on Saturday, breaking the previous record of 94 set in 1933. The lows at the Cody airport this week were below freezing but didn’t break records.
Fortunately for farmers, the mercury is rising again and it appears that local temperatures will be back into normal ranges for the next week or so.
Jeremiah Vardiman, University of Wyoming Extension agriculture and horticulture educator in Powell, said the cold weather will have an impact on crops. However, he said it shouldn’t be devastating like the sustained period of low temperatures and moisture in October 2019 that wreaked havoc on sugar beet crops.
“This was just a cold blast,” Vardiman said.
Exactly how much crops will be hurt by the short freeze will depend on a wide range of factors, including the type of crop, where it is in the harvest process, and the temperatures in a particular field. Those in the higher elevations might have received more snow, which can act as an insulator that protects the crops from freezing damage.
Hay pastures and alfalfa fields are likely to be the least hard hit, whereas sugar beets might see slight impact.
Ric Rodriguez, who farms on Heart Mountain, concurred with Vardiman. The freeze was too short to have an impact like what happened last October, which resulted in a loss of about 30% of the area’s beet crop.
The beets are currently on a scheduled harvest, Rodriguez said, with farmers delivering only enough to be three days ahead of the sugar factory in Lovell. Farmers need things to cool down before they clear the fields and deliver beets to the pile, which should happen in the first week of October.
“Hopefully, things will be cool by then and everybody can be digging beets,” Rodriguez said.
Klodette Stroh, who farms with her husband east of Powell, said her family’s beans, beet, and corn crops were mature or in the last stage of ripening, so there shouldn’t be any serious frost damage.
She said being at the mercy of the weather is just part of farming, but she’s hoping that the weather will cooperate through the harvest.
“Only time will tell,” Stroh said, “because everything is in the good Lord’s hands.”