Wintry Autumn Weather Makes Old Men Grumpy

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Bill Sniffin
Bill Sniffin

The boys down at the coffee shop were in a grumpy mood earlier on this day.  They had just endured their fourth heavy wet snowstorm. And it was just Oct. 28!

As I write this, I am looking out my window at my poor trees, once again, leaning over almost to the ground.  Their leaves covered with frozen snow and many more limbs broken.

Our coffee bunch, also known as The Fox News All-Stars, can be surly.  You will hear these guys complaining just about everything. Lately the complaints have been focused on the weather.

Curmudgeon-in-Chief Ben Freedman comes in every morning and says: “It’s 84 in Tucson.”  On this particular morning, it had been 27 in Lander.  

Sergeant-at-Arms Tony McRae is not pleased when someone compliments the morning “alpenglow.”  Not sure why, but I think it has something to do with the chilly weather that accompanies such a sight against our wonderful Wind River Mountains. Alpenglow is that beautiful orange reflection of the morning sun against the snow-covered hills and mountains.

Dave Kellogg, Mike Jones and Tom Cox live out of town in areas where they get wind.  It is not uncommon to hear Dave say, “Man, it was really blowing last night.”  However, back in town, where the weather is calm, it just stays cold.

Because Lander gets so little wind, we often endure “inversions,” where the cold weather hangs low in the valley. Pilot Andy Gramlich always comments it is 50 degrees warmer just 500 feet above town.

Retired banker Charlie Krebs is the announcer for the high school football games and reported how his feet went out from under him as he was descending the slippery steps on the aluminum bleachers during a recent game.  In a snowstorm.

Garve Chapman cheerily reported a neighbor cleaned off his driveway.  “If I spend enough time here at coffee, I will never have to get my snow blower out this year,” he said.

Former mayor and legislator Del McOmie spent his career with the highway department so he regales us with tales of snowplowing heroics occurring on nearby mountain passes like Togwotee Pass, South Pass and Beaver Rim.

California transplant Dave Langerman, when not hunting or fishing, will give us an update on the weather in the mountains or lakes.  Lately his weather reports contain the words “inconsistent.”

John Brown lives in the country up toward South Pass and often tells harrowing tales about road conditions. He also works in Rock Springs and is often wondering about South Pass, which can be legendary for lousy weather.

Long-time trails expert Jim Smail fills us in all summer long with tales of how nutty campers were failing to put out their campfires. This time of year, he tells us there is not as much snow “on top” as down here in the valley.  Darn.

We like it the other way around.  It is supposed to snow on top and be nice in our valleys.  Not this fall.

When we are not growling about the weather, we complain about the roads.  We don’t like them when they are in need of repair but we really get ornery while we endure construction delays.    

Most recently, I was recounting a 20-minute delay in the middle of the night at the base of Beaver Rim between Lander and Jeffrey City.  There we sat without anyone in sight with a red light holding us up.  “Should we go?” I asked my wife Nancy.  She did not think so.

Luckily, we did not.  The pilot car finally showed up and there was lots of construction underway.  Delbert advised us weather was causing delays and those contractors were desperately trying to get the job done “before winter.”

“Before winter?” Garve snorted with chuckles all around.

You see, that is the problem here.  

Actually our Lander Valley winters can be fairly mild; it is the shoulder seasons that have most recently been crazy.

Lander had four major snowstorms last April.  Four!  

And now here in September and October, we have had four more major snowstorms.  Four!

At this rate, we could endure winter weather for seven months.

Such weather reports make for a group of grumpy old men sitting around the table at the Best Western each morning in Lander.  And probably in similar coffee shops in Cheyenne, Laramie, Rawlins, Evanston, Rock Springs, Kemmerer, Thermopolis, Worland, Riverton, Buffalo, Sheridan, Powell, Pinedale, Afton, Douglas, Wheatland, Torrington, Lusk, Moorcroft, Sundance, Pine Bluffs and other fine cities and towns all across Wyoming.     


Check out Bill Sniffin’s columns at  He is a longtime Wyoming journalist from Lander who has written four books. His most recent book is “Wyoming’s 7 Greatest Natural Wonders” which is available at

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