It takes a special constitution to fully appreciate a Wyoming winter, and if the National Weather Service is correct in its forecast, Carbon County may be in for its first blast of winter this season early next week. Here, snow blankets the ground around an old barn near Encampment.

What’s been a mild fall season so far in southcentral Wyoming will take a sharp turn into winter over the next week as a strong storm system is expected to bring freezing temperatures and snow.

Just how much snow people in Rawlins and Carbon County can expect is up to Mother Nature, said Chad Grimmestad, a 30-year veteran meteorologist at the National Weather Service Office in Cheyenne.

“The big picture is we’re getting into a more active weather pattern,” he said of what to expect over the next five days. “The first few days will be partly cloudy with some snows Friday through Monday.”

That’s when a strong storm system is expected to move through the Colorado Rockies and also catch some of southern Wyoming, Grimmestad said.

“There’s going to be a significant storm system moving through the upper Rockies next week, probably Tuesday and Wednesday, so we’re expecting some snow with that,” he said. “How much? It’s a little too early to know, but some significant snow could be in the higher elevations.”

Because southern Wyoming is on the northern edge of the system, there’s no way to accurately predict if Rawlins will get a dusting of snow or several inches, he said.

“It’ll probably snow in Laramie and Rawlins and there’s potential for the I-80 summit to get some snow accumulation,” Grimmestad said. “Whether it’s light snow or heavy snow, it depends on the storm track. For Rawlins, there’s probably less of a threat of heavy snow, but a pretty good chance of getting some light snow with some wind.

“We’re forecasting a storm that hasn’t even developed yet, but there’s a threat of getting enough snow that it could impact travel Tuesday and Wednesday.”

Highs through much of Carbon County will be in the 60s Friday through Monday with lows in the 30s. On Tuesday and Wednesday, highs will only be in the 30s with lows in the 20s, Grimmestad said.

Any moisture from the storm will be welcome in Wyoming, most of which is considered to be at some level of drought designation, he said.

At the National Weather Service measuring station in Rawlins, 1.54 inches of precipitation was measured in September, well above the normal average of 0.89 inches. So far this year, Rawlins has had 7.65 inches of precipitation compared to a normal average of 7.49 inches.

“Right now, the whole state has some kind of drought classification,” Girmmestad said. “On a scale of 0 to 4 with 4 being the most dry and pretty bad, most of the central and southeast part of Wyoming is in D1, which is moderate drought. D3 is extreme, which is basically about a third of the state.”

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