A New Weather Station

We decided to up our weather station capabilities here at our place. Our original weather station was doing alright mainly, but we could tell it was not measuring the wind speeds out here accurately. As in regularly being 20-30mph under the true wind speeds.

Based on the orientation of our house, wind speeds can easily pass 60mph on a normal day. It has been bothersome to not be able to tell what the biggest gusts really were registering. (When the house is vibrating from the pressure of the winds, accurate knowledge suddenly becomes very important to one’s peace of mind). So we upgraded and went for this new set-up from Ambient Weather.

So far this new station has performed top-notch with near-instant signaling between the station and our indoor display.

We didn’t realize before how important that fast signal between station and interior display is when measuring high wind. If it is a slow signal to your digital dashboard, you potentially miss measuring and seeing the peak of a gust and likely your station isn’t reporting back the true speeds. This is what we think was happening with our other model and were always seeing speeds of almost 20mph less than what it really was due to the slower latency.

We look forward to keeping up with our weather here now with better detail (and both staying safe with it while having some fun)!

Frozen Mordor

Towering cloud cover over Cheyenne in the distance viewed from our fence line.

Yesterday brought a fast-moving front across our place west of town and I watched it culminate into a towering cloud formation far and wide that slowed down and stalled over the populous of Cheyenne, WY. (Technically we are in Cheyenne also by zip code, but beyond the horizon in the photo is the city area).

The Hubs noted that driving into town for his night shift felt like entering “frozen Mordor” as per his description, the travel transported him into the dark and dreary setting of the dark and foreboding landscape of Mordor in the Lord of the Rings movies. The temperature can drop disturbingly fast out here so it’s not unheard of to see us go down 20-30 degrees in short order and things go pear-shaped quickly.

A few hours later I took a peek outside and found that at least from out here on our little ranch on a ridge, while the cloud bank was still there, it was softened by the pastels and sunset colors of the fading evening. Definitely a changed narrative looking back at the weather from the clear side of things from what it apparently looked like from within it.

The Wind is Not My Friend

The view is serene. The winds you cannot see here were anything but.

I purposefully took this photo yesterday during the peak of some high winds we have been receiving here at our little ranch house. The scene in the picture is very deceiving as the wind was fierce despite how calm it looks. In fact, for the last two days, we have been taking a pounding by stronger-than-normal winds:

Ambient Weather station wind charting today in mph from our home weather station.

I tried to step outside onto our back deck through a sliding patio door to take the above photo of the western view. On inching the door open it was clear by the roar of the winds that I was about to see all of my worldly possessions go scattering across the floor, so I quickly shut it. The photo was instead taken through a window.

Now that’s wind, friend.

And it really is getting difficult to live with. Powerful winds once in a while is one thing. But this week’s our top gusts have hit over 87mph. That kind of wind makes one’s mind go a little stir crazy when it keeps going.

As I type this post, my house is vibrating. I use a small Dell XPS laptop and the screen is actually shaking here on my dining table where I am seated. As are the floors, the furniture and if I stare at my windows long enough, I can see them flexing and vibrating as well.

Now, is it always this windy? No. But it regularly is over the 50mph+ range and the descriptions above still occur even if not quite at the intensity we are at this holiday weekend here in the US.

Just the act of bringing in the groceries from our detached garage becomes a physical feat of prowess to not lose everything to the wind. I’ve learned to use zipper grocery bags as if the bag is open it’s likely something is flying out.

I’ve lost my sunglasses off the top of my head once (found them later).

I nearly injured my wrists trying to wrangle fly-away pegboard sections when having to face the wrong direction of the wind.

Even today, my husband had to run across the prairie land to chase down a runaway METAL BARREL that had been upended from inside a fenced in loafing shed. As in he had placed inside of a wooden fence and somehow, the winds today took it up and over. Granted it was empty, but still!

There is no choice in what waste container you use out here – everyone uses heavy metal dumpsters. But why in the name of all that is smart in this world are the lids plastic? We keep trying to get one with a heavy metal lid but so far no luck. Currently we use sandbags to hold down our dumpster lids but the wind still blows the lids off and back.

Let’s think about that one: We sandbag our trash dumpster. And it doesn’t hold.

And the house. We have one of those two-sided propane fireplaces which is really quite pretty to see it run. But on these windy days, the entire inside of the chimney right down to the logs becomes its own wind instrument with loud bass tones you can hear from every place in the house. How we haven’t broken some part of it yet mystifies me.

I sleep listening to music and audiobooks every night (a habit I had before we moved here). I use what I like to think are pretty nice earbuds with noise-cancelling features. And yet the wind still wakes me up a lot of nights.

By now if you’ve made it this far in the blog post, you are probably wondering – why did you buy this house then, if the wind is so bad? Well dear reader, this is because there was no wind when we found the house and toured it. Not one gust or any indication of what was to come in the winter months. Just a lovely little current that softly blew through the house in the remaining weeks of August and September when we toured and made our offer. We thought it was quite nice, actually.

Oh had we known.

The next time we look to purchase a home in a rural setting, we’re checking local weather trends and history. I will be asking our realtor for a PowerPoint presentation, thank you.

For the foreseeable future though, you’ll find us holding firm here on our little ranch against the legendary southeastern Wyoming winds. And here is hoping that this is really just seasonal and we get to enjoy a calmer spring, summer and autumn soon!

Local Antelope

Part of our local herd of antelope heading up one of the hills below our home.

We often seen antelope that come through our property and the adjacent state land (aka “BLM” or Bureau of Land Management land). I took the photo above on my way back to our house as they were heading up the hill to our back yard.

They are quite skittish and mostly keep to the wide open spaces. It’s a sight to see them run. As our fastest land mammal, they can clock upwards of 55mph. (My husband refers to them as speed goats). I’ve spooked them near our home before and they are amazing sprinters and will zig zag to avoid predators.

Grazing most of our front yard.

Lo and behold, once I parked my vehicle in the garage and allowed the yard to return to quiet again, they began hopping over and stepping through our wire fences to graze our land.

Grazing near our loafing sheds.

This was just a few antelope of the overall herd that often wonders through. The vast majority of them stayed off our place but this group must have felt a bit more brave in wanting to explore the remaining patches of prairie grass we still have here in winter. While the natural grasses here look yellow and dead, they are very much still alive.

The antelope moved here and there across our front yard and then began to head back towards the sunny plains beyond the shadow of the hills.

Back into the sun and more grass to graze.

They finally joined the rest of their herd which was already wandering off to the south. In no hurry, they meandered along their journey of grazing and avoiding people and cars.

Moon Reflections at Night

In tidying up photos on my computer recently, I found this one that reminded me of the calm before the holidays descended back in mid-December.

I had begun to crawl into bed for the night and with the lights off my attention was taken by the unusual glow of the moon in combination with the blue tones in the sky with the twinkle of a few stars that were starting to become visible. I snagged my phone off of the night stand and gave it the best shot I could at taking the photo. (Anyone who has ever tried to photograph the moon or stars at night with a smart phone knows, it’s never a great shot). But there was just something about the fact that while it wasn’t a perfect capture of the moon, it was not a bad capture of the sky’s dark blue tones with the stars.

A pair of windows is positioned just over the head of our bed and it makes for wonderful stargazing if I lay on my back and look upwards through into the night sky. On this night I knelt on my pillow and stared outwards at the candle-colored moon glow over the valley that our house sits above. The sky was unusually clear and almost everything out there was illuminated (apart from the light you see in the grass from our security lights).

It just goes to show that it is not always the perfect picture that we enjoy so much, but it’s what we felt and what we remember when we see that photo later that makes them enjoyable. This picture reminds me how in awe I was to be able to see light from the sun reflecting off of the moon, to the dark side of the earth, is a wonder and creates such beauty for our eyes to feast on.

Frosty Forecast that Missed the Mark

Rocky outcroppings hidden by low-hanging clouds.

This weekend’s forecast of 6-10 inches in our area produced barely an inch (not even half) of accumulation. A lot of ice, a lot of short hoar frost, but not the major weather even predicted.

Our area is notorious for poor weather forecasts. Based on my time living here (five years so far), it seems 8-9 of every 10 meteorological estimates are a total miss or greatly off.

We could still see the valley and meandering North Fork Crow Creek this morning.

The stillness of this kind of winter is contemplative. Especially when one is a bit isolated. Weather has a way of slowing us down, making us more thoughtful about moving around and other things. It is almost like a frozen hall pass to stay in, do only the necessary and stop the rush of things.

Curtains of gray wrap around nearly every horizon.

This coldness, despite the lack of accumulation, wrapped everything in sight in gray blankets of clouds, fog and frost.

Minor hoar frost appears on some surfaces.

I never get tired of seeing hoar frost. It is a bit magical having come from the southeastern US where I had not seen it before. I suppose that as long as I live where it appears, I will always want to step outside and look at it.

Exterior door handle with frost.

Even as I turned around on our front porch to head back inside after my impromptu photos, there is a little Jack Frost there on the door too.

Porch post with frost following the wood grain.

Even the wood grain of the posts that support our front porch put on their own little show of crystalline frost when examined closely enough to see. This is just the start of winter here, so I look forward to a few days of warming trends hopefully soon until the next batch of frozen stuff comes around.

December Cold Colors

Before the preparation for the holidays took hold, I ran outside on a cold December morning this month and snapped this sunrise with my iPhone. Admittedly it is getting more difficult to motivate myself to step outside on some of our frigid mornings lately.

With fiery colors like these, I liked looking at the rest of the sky and land in this frame. The eye inevitably is tugged back to the brightest point of the shot, but it’s an interesting look to instead follow where the gravel road travels and consider the rock formations on the hills too. In a way, it leads one to wonder what else lies to the right of the focus points here (hint – more rocky hills).

Photos like these remind me that so much more is to come next year in the spring and summer when we can see these sunrises when things are green and growing again – so much to look forward to!