Medicine Bow is located at the junction of highways 30 and 487. These were the main thoroughfares in Wyoming prior to the development of I-80, which bypasses Medicine Bow.
We are located at an elevation of 6563 ft. More than a mile above sea level. Here is what that means:
- Baked goods need a little less liquid, or a little more flour. Yeast REALLY rises!
- Boiled foods take a tad longer to cook.
- Produce ripens differently.
- You get out of breath a little sooner when under exhertion.
- You exhale twice as much moisture as at sea level, which means you need to drink more water, or you may suffer heat exhaustion.
- You sunburn a little more easily, the atmosphere is thinner, and more sun rays come through.
- This is higher than the "mile high city". Just in case you didn't do the math!
- Higher and more persistent winds linger here almost year 'round.
- Temperatures are generally lower, but when it does heat up it seems to do it very suddenly.
- Shorter growing season. Gardening can be done, but requires some adaptation and persistence.
- Plentiful wildlife. Not just for hunting. Some small critter seems to live behind every rock or under every bush!
This area is classed as Alpine Desert. It is by no means barren. It is chiefly covered in grass and sagebrush, with occasional tumbleweeds. Some areas have pine forests, or bushes in little mini-forests.
The land here is shaped by the wind, and the rolling hills have the shapes of sand dunes. It is not pretty, but can be very striking, and awesome at times. When the wind scours the dirt off and leaves rocks sticking out, it can create some wonderfully fanciful structures, looking like castles and battlements rising from the hills.
In the spring and early summer many wildflowers grow across the hills. They are only there for a short time, then gone.
Winds blow daily from mid-September to mid-May, sometimes longer. The wind can be very hard in the winter. People adapt to the climate very quickly, and those who think the wind will drive them crazy are often surprised to find that they begin to take pride in the fact that we get much more of it than most places. And it does provide the power for the local wind farms.
Our average annual temperature is 42.4 degrees. It is not that cold all the time, in fact, we run around in shirt sleeves from March to October. Of course, if you live here a while you do acclimatize somewhat! The average temperature for the month of January is 19 degrees. This means it is generally right around freezing or a little below during the daytime, and between 5 and 15 degrees at night. There is not as much variation between day and night in the winter as in the summer. The average temperature for July is 64.6 degrees. Nights often drop down to the mid 40s, and days sometimes climb to the high 80s, or low 90s, but usually stay comfortably in the high 70s to low 80s.
Average Rainfall is 10.36 inches. Average Snowfall is about 23.2 inches. Really, only about 2 ft of snow per year! Usually it blows off the streets and roads (we joke about it causing snow drifts in Nebraska!). The late spring snows are wet, and they don't blow around much, but the rest of the winter, the snow is dry, and the primary danger on the roads is not sliding, it is poor visability from fog-like blowing snow. We take the weather very seriously, and don't get foolish about it. But we don't live in fear of it either. Commuters to Rawlins and Laramie only lose about 1-2 days of work per year to weather. And while it CAN snow any month of the year, it generally does not! We usually have three solid months in the middle of the summer, and half a month on either end that are free of the threat of snow. And if it does snow in late spring, it melts off fast.
An aver 9 days per year are sunny. That means that 3/5 of our days are sunny. The winters often surprise people, because they expect with low temperatures there would be a lot of cloudy weather, but there really is not. Winters are bright and clear for the most part, and sunglasses are as necessary on cold days as on warm ones. We get some clouds and storms in spring and fall. Thunder and snow storms sometimes! Hail in the late spring some years. But overall, if you like the light, there is plenty of it here.
In spite of all the sun, our growing season averages 100 days. That means you plant around the first of June, and plan for short season varieties of the things you like. Melons, Eggplant, Okra, and other sun lovers won't have time to mature here, nor will pumpkins. Cole crops and salad greens, root crops, and short season tomatoes all do well. In fact, root crops grow better here than in many places with longer growing seasons as long as they get sufficient water. Many people have greenhouses to extend the season and sneak in a few pampered fruit trees. Some fruits do well here out of doors...Strawberries if mulched in winter, raspberries grow wild, along with Chokecherries. Native Plum, Manchurian Apricot, Crab Apples, and Bush Cherries will also produce a respectable crop, as will gooseberries and currants. The soil tends to be alkaline, but most garden crops either do not respond badly to it, or compensating for it is simple.
This is not the easiest place to live, but when things are easy, you miss a lot of the fun. We are an hour from the nearest real mall, and some take issue with that! No McDonalds on the corner here either. Basic services are available in town, but most people travel to Laramie or even Casper or Cheyenne to shop. We are 4 hours from Denver, and almost everybody here gets to Denver once in a while.
Our crime rates are very low, and generally if something is stolen, someone tells you fairly soon who it was who did it. Not a lot goes unobserved here. A population of just under 300 means that within a year of living here most people will know your name or your face, or your kids! Everybody at school will know your kids, and if they do something, you will probably hear about it.
The low population also means that there are not a lot of specialized jobs. People who make a good living here do it off tourism, by commuting, or by doing an assortment of things. Many women do a number of jobs...subbing at school, driving bus, working at the hotel, and doing odd jobs. Because we have limited services here there is a demand for people to do those odd jobs. Flexibility is required for getting a job, or for self-employment. There are a lot of small niches left here, and if you can fill more than one, you have a chance of building a stable business. Businesses can also thrive by marketing to non-local markets.
Our town covers an area about 8 blocks long, by about 6-7 blocks wide. If you run up one street, and down the other, the long way, you can put in just about a mile, round trip.
Weather Trivia Game
Which month, on the average, is the WETTEST in Medicine Bow? May
Which month, on the average, is the HOTTEST IN Medicine Bow? July
Which month, on the average, is the COLDEST in Medicine Bow? Jan
How much precipitation does Medicine Bow receive in an average year? 10.36"
The driest year on record for Medicine Bow was 1988, when 5.26" was recorded.
The wettest year on record for Medicine Bow was 1975, when 10.9" was recorded.
The maximum 24-hour precipitation recorded in Medicine Bow was on July 24, 1958, when 2.9" fell.
Medicine Bow's record low temperature was -46, set on Jan. 19, 1963.
Medicine Bow's record high temperature is 97, set on July 12, 1954.
Medicine Bow's snowiest winter was 1961-1962, when 74.1" fell.
Medicine Bow's snowiest month was November, 1960, when 24.3" fell.
The average number of Tornadoes reported per year in Wyoming is 10.
Arrange the following cities in order from least windy to windiest, on average.
1. Lander, 2. Sheridan, 3. Casper, 4. Cheyenne
Arrange the following counties in order from driest to wettest.
1. Sweetwater, 2. Platte, 3. Campbell, 4. Goshen, 5. Hot Springs
What county did Wyoming's all time record high of 115 degrees occur? Big Horn
What county did Wyoming's all time record low of -66 degrees occur? Park
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