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Wyoming Meteorologist Talks Tornadoes [AUDIO]

photo by NOAA

Deadly tornadoes across the southeastern United States have left over 250 dead, millions without power and thousands homeless.  In the wake of that destruction, K2 Radio’s Karen Snyder talks to Chris Jones, with the National Weather Service, in Riverton, about tornadoes in Wyoming.

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In 2005 Wyoming experienced its deadliest tornado when a F2 twister tore through Wright, Wyoming killing two people.

Meteorologist, Chris Jones, says while large tornadoes happen here, as evidenced that August day, the conditions required are not our norm.

“Low-level moisture is an important ingredient for us to develop tornadoes especially strong and violent tornadoes.  As you can imagine, in Wyoming its tough for us at 5000 to  6000 feet of elevation to tap a strong low-level moisture source. There are numerous other parameters that come into play, but that is probably one of the biggest ingredients missing here in Wyoming for us to develop tornadoes such as those.”

The great plains states are sometime referred to as ‘tornado alley’ and flat country is the classic landscape associated with twisters, but Jones says Wyoming has had some unusually placed tornado events .

“One of the three deadly tornadoes since 1950 here in the state of Wyoming actually occurred up Shell Canyon at the top of the canyon in the Big Horn Mountains. We’ve also seen the strongest tornado ever to occur in the state of Wyoming  in northeast Teton County and southeast Yellowstone National Park. That was back in July of 1987.”

Here in Natrona County we are now recognized by the National Weather Service as a “storm ready designated community”, with redundant communication systems in place including dozens of new outdoor warning sirens. Jones says the most important thing to do when a siren goes off is seek more information- tune to local radio or television or go to the National Weather Service Website.

Here are some valuable links in case of a weather emergency:

The National Weather Service in Riverton, Wyoming.

Natrona County Emergency Management.

Red Cross of Wyoming

Wyoming Office of Homeland Security

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