Strong winds wreak havoc at Cowley airport

Patti Carpenter

A storm on Sunday afternoon brought strong wind gusts that sent a trampoline in Lovell up and over a power line, tree branches and other debris flying, destroyed an expensive wind sock at the Cowley Airport and caused severe damage to a privately-owned airplane hangar.
According to Big Horn County airport manager Paul Thur, the wind sock, which is owned by the airport, will cost several thousand dollars to replace.
He could not give an estimate of the damage to the hangar because it was privately owned by Curtis Abraham.  According to Thur, the hangar appeared to have sustained severe damage.
Abraham was not available for comment.
“We lost our main wind sock, which was torn out of the ground and destroyed and a hangar on lot 10 was also destroyed,” explained Thur.
Thur said he recalls that “years ago” a hangar was destroyed by a microburst or downdraft at the Cowley airport. He said this is the second wind event to cause destruction at the airport, to the best of his knowledge. He noted that two similar events took place at the Greybull airport in past years.
“I think we’ve lost two hangars at each airport, over the years but not very frequently though,” he said. “The incidents have been few and far between. This is the second one for Cowley.”
Thur said he plans to have a technician examine an automated weather system recorder located near the damaged wind sock, to determine the speed of the winds and what type of weather event may have caused them.
“Nobody saw a tornado, so I don’t think it was that,” he said. “I’m not sure who can help us determine exactly what it was, but I do know it caused branches to come down in nearby towns like Cowley and Lovell.
“I suppose once we find out the wind speed, we can ask the weather service if they saw anything on their equipment. Otherwise, I’m not sure if we will ever know what it was. There’s downbursts, there’s microbursts, there’s straight line winds and all kinds of wind events that it could have been. Maybe someone will be able to help us figure it out some day.”