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Loud storm caused fire calls, brief power bump

Sep 4, 2015 By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer

A quick, loud storm that blew through Riverton overnight generated just enough thunder and lightning to cause problems for firefighters early Friday.

Crews were called at about 12:50 a.m. Friday to a report that a transformer was sparking in the 700 block of East Madison Avenue.

A few minutes later, the firefighters put out a blaze caused by lightning that struck a power pole along Wyoming Highway 789.

"A pretty good storm blew through here last night," Riverton Volunteer Fire Department chief Scott Walters said Friday.

National Weather Service meteorologist Jeff Braun said the weather system hit Riverton for about 30 minutes. Residents reported hearing intense thunder during that time.

"It was a real small thing --real specific, like targeting Riverton," he said Friday. "It came up just south of Riverton around St. Stephen's and went straight north through town and threw out a bunch of lightning for about 10-15 minutes. Then it was off to the north and gone."

At his house in town he recorded a few 100ths of an inch of rain from the storm. A quarter-mile west of Riverton, however, he said there was no precipitation.

"(The storm) couldn't have been more than like a mile to 2 miles wide," Braun said. "It just came up, went through and that was it."

He said the pop-up shower was the result of larger storms west of Fremont County that dissipated over the nearby mountains. The outflow from one of those storms made its way to the Wind River Basin with enough force behind it to create a disturbance.

"It was kind of like a small mini-front," Braun said.

He recalled hearing the fire sirens go off in Riverton about five minutes after he noticed the first lightning strike overnight.

Power out

The weather caused a short power outage for 1,930 Riverton residents according to Rocky Mountain Power spokeswoman Margaret Oler, who said the "trip in the reclose" only lasted for four-tenths of a second.

"When that kind of weather blows through it's not unusual (to lose power briefly)," Oler said Friday. "(It means) the protective equipment is acting the way it should to protect the system from damage."

She noted that another outage recorded at about 1:45 p.m. Thursday affecting 69 customers was caused by someone digging into an underground service line.

Forecast

Similar weather is possible Friday evening, Braun said, with a front expected to travel through the west-northwest part of the state on Saturday.

"It'll sweep through overnight Saturday to Sunday," he said. "There will be winds ahead of the front all day tomorrow, (and) Sunday will be cool and blustery for sure."

The system won't bring much precipitation to the lower elevations. Instead, Braun said it'll be a "wind-maker."

"Winds (will be) howling through Fremont County and into Natrona County," he said.

Light snow may fall in the western mountains above 8,500 feet. Braun said temperatures in the Wind River Basin will be in the upper 60s and lower 70s.

"It's definitely a summer killer," he said.

Next week will be generally cooler, with a weather trough hanging over the area.

"We're not going to have any return to the 90s or anything like that throughout the week," Braun said. "It's going to basically remain in the 70s --maybe lower to mid-80s at the end of the week."

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