Last winter was the snowiest in Cody/Yellowstone Country in more than 40 years and while it brought many challenges, it was great to get the much needed moisture.
The long-range forecast is saying we can expect more than our average of 43-45 inches of snow because of the warm weather patterns in the Pacific Ocean. I always get El Nina and La Nino mixed up, but I know it’s one or the other. If Dan Miller would write a song explaining the differences, however, I would never be confused again. I wish he would get on it.
Out here we seldom complain about snow. Because our air is so often dry with sporadic rain showers that swoop in quickly and then move one before we know it, we welcome moisture in whatever form shows up. More than 100 years ago our town founder pushed for – and received – federal funds and assistance to construct the Shoshone Dam (later renamed the Buffalo Bill Dam) so that Shoshone River water could be captured and used for irrigation of crops in the region.
There is a saying in the West that there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing. Just slap on an extra layer, pull out some rain pants and keep your gloves dry. When it snows, trade your cowboy boots for something waterproof with good treads.
Around here snow also means downhill skiing, cross country skiing, snow shoeing, snowmobiling, tobogganing and sledding. Cold air brings ice skating and some of the best ice climbing in the world.
In other words, take advantage of the snow.
So, what does our town do when a bunch of the white stuff falls? The people responsible keeping our 77 miles of roads clear have looked for ways to minimize the disruptions. When you combine wide open spaces with snow that sometimes comes in sideways, you are going to have drifts. Instead of just running the plow back and forth, our county crews are strategically placing snow fences in the county so that drifts build up away from the roads.
Another technique is to plow the snow toward designated areas. Just because we have wide streets doesn’t mean we want to pile snow on both sides. We like our on-street parking and have no intention of just giving it up.
Snow blowing attachments on trucks, front end loaders and other heavy equipment are used to keep streets and gutters clear. Sometimes that snow ends up in our parks where it melts and provides moisture for the grass.
When a storm blows in, crews will work around the clock to ensure the roads are safe. I put in a special request that the road between my house and Sleeping Giant Ski Area be considered the county’s top priority. The county commissioners told me that my request would be taken under advisement but that I should not hold my breath expecting them to prioritize my route to go skiing over things like Sheridan Avenue and side streets to schools, hospitals and businesses that employ us all. I’m thinking of circulating a petition and will start with all the kids who stand to receive days off from school next storm.
With December here it’s time to start thinking of these things.
So while the town is buying road salt/sand and changing the oil in its trucks, I am sharpening the edges of my skates, waxing my skis, testing my snow shoes and making sure my winter clothes are clean and in their proper drawers.
Until next week, I am lovin’ life – and hoping for more snow – in Cody, Wyo.