By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily
Roads, government offices and schools remained closed across southeastern Wyoming on Monday as the state recovered from a record-breaking winter storm that forced even snowplows off of the highways.
As of Monday morning, highways remained closed from the Nebraska border west to Rawlins and the Colorado border north to Buffalo.
During the peak of the storm on Sunday, the Wyoming Transportation Department suspended plowing operations on Interstate 80 as the snow and brisk winds pushed snow back onto freshly plowed roads.
With many roads remaining impassable Monday morning, government offices and schools closed from Cheyenne and Laramie to Casper. In Laramie, the University of Wyoming was also closed.
Even Wyoming’s Legislature, which rarely closes because of the weather, suspended operations on Monday.
“With weather conditions unsafe for travel, all state of Wyoming facilities in Laramie County will be closed on Monday, March 15, state offices will be closed and the Wyoming Legislature will not meet,” Gov. Mark Gordon said in a Facebook posting. “With most roads impassable, we continue to recommend no unnecessary travel in the portions of the state impacted by this historic storm. Stay safe Wyoming!”
The blizzard began dropping snow on the southeastern half of the state Saturday night and continued through most of Sunday.
Snow accumulations from the storm ranged from 9 inches in Rawlins to 20 inches in Pine Bluffs, 26 inches in Casper, 28 inches in Wheatland and 30.8 inches in Cheyenne, a record for a two-day snowfall.
At the height of the storm, Interstate 80 was closed from Cheyenne west to Rock Springs, but crews were able to open the stretch between Rawlins and Rock Springs by Monday morning. The Transportation Department predicted much of the rest of I80 and I25 would be open by Monday night.
Conditions across the state were expected to improve slowly over the week, according to meteorologist Don Day of DayWeather.
Day said an approaching front would keep Wyoming’s weather cool and unsettled until the middle of the week, when a warm front will move into the state.
“If you want to know when the big melt is, the big melt starts Thursday and Friday and into early Saturday, as southwest winds will bring much warmer air in and that’s going to be able to start to melt the snow,” he said. “It’s really not until the end of the week before we see any significant warm up or any significant melting.”