By Zach Spadt
Pine Bluffs Post 

Hail destroys crops, delays wheat harvest

Farmers work to beat 'Great White Combine'

 

A hailstorm Sunday left area farmers with 100 percent crop losses, others unscathed.

"In the Egbert area and south, it's 100 percent crop loss," Derek Walls with Frenchman Valley CoOp said, adding, "That was wheat ready to be cut.

"It's rough for a lot of people. They just were getting ready to take their combines out."

Walls said along with wheat crops, corn growing in the area was a complete loss. Monetary losses have not yet been assessed.

Some farmers suffered little or no damage to their crops. But farmers just down the road didn't have the same luck.

During the afternoon hours of Sunday, July 17, the National Weather Service declared a severe thunderstorm warning for southeastern Laramie County. Residents in Pine Bluffs heard from their friends in Burns that the hail was at least the size of golfballs.

Although Pine Bluffs experienced pea-sized hail, it was spared the large hail reported elsewhere.

NWS Meteorologist Becca Mazur said the supercell originated in the Horse Creek area between Cheyenne and Laramie before taking a southeast turn.

"We had reports of anywhere from golfball to baseball-sized hail," Mazur said.

Mazur explained the storm is typical for this time of year.

She added that in summer supercells, the weather can vary greatly over just a few miles. The storm, while large, had a narrow hail swath, Mazur said.

That narrow swath is what left some farmers unscathed, while others experienced 100 percent crop losses.

Matt Hockersmith, who farms just south of Pine Bluffs, said he remembers hearing the reports and watching the storm close in. He said he didn't lose any crops, but others weren't so lucky. His neighbors's car had its windshields shattered. Just nearby, there were reports of injured livestock and antelope that were killed by the storm.


But that's the nature of farming.

"You're just sitting out here looking at a beautiful cornfield thinking, 'Will this still be here in five minutes?'" Hockersmith said.

Harvest continues

Despite the setbacks, area farmers whose crops were spared from Sunday's storms are moving forward with harvest, but they're not out of the woods yet.

Expect the possibility of similar weather throughout the week as the National Weather Service predicts temperatures into the 90s. According to Mazur, severe weather in southeastern Wyoming becomes more likely through late July into early August.


"We're dealing with storms and getting as many acres harvested as we can before we get (a severe storm)," David Dudney, who is currently harvesting wheat north of Albin, said Monday.

Dudney said he was working when Sunday's storm came through.

"We knew it was coming, and we hoped it would miss us. We just got a little sprinkle, enough to stop us for the day," Dudney said, adding, "We have a good crop. Hopefully the Great White Combine stays away."

 

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