By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily
Sub-zero temperatures. High winds. Closed Roads. Life threatening conditions.
An Arctic blast has entered Wyoming and is bringing with it dangerous weather.
Wind chills are minus 50 in some areas and will continue to drop through the day and tonight.
On Wednesday afternoon, Cowboy State Daily meteorologist Don Day said the Arctic front has moved past Casper and Wheatland and is hung up on the high ground between Cheyenne and Chugwater. Day said Cheyenne can expect the front by 2 p.m.
For those parts of the state already affected by the cold front, the weather is “god-awful,” he said.
“It’s just a total white-out in Buffalo,” Day said, mentioning that Interstate 90 was closed. “Right now, it’s the worst in the Big Horn Basin with winds blowing over 50 mph.”
Day said Casper dropped 43 degrees in 30 minutes.
“It’s coming in as expected, but maybe even with more of a punch,” he said.
The problem, Day said, is that existing snow in some places hasn’t melted since the last storm so the additional snow and wind is going to cause a lot of problems.
That’s what Sheridan’s Nic George said.
“We had that big snowstorm last week and it stayed cold so none of it melted,” George told Cowboy State Daily.
“We’ve only had a couple inches so far, but that’s on top of 5-foot snowdrifts,” he said.
George said the temperature at his house was 13 below zero and the gusts were blowing 20-25 mph in Sheridan, which is unusual for the northern Wyoming community.
“It’s never windy here,” he said. “So a 25 mph gust is like 70 mph in Casper or 140 mph in Cheyenne.”
George said he was worried about his upcoming trip to Phoenix. He, his wife and three children were planning on flying out of Billings on Thursday to visit his parents.
“If it keeps snowing, the plows will be out, so I think everything should be OK,” he said. “But we’re at the mercy of the elements.”
George said he was not entertaining the thought of going to Phoenix on his own and leaving his family behind in snowy Sheridan.
“That would not be a good strategy,” he said.
Things were a bit colder and much windier in Worland where Jay Richard was working at his detail shop.
“This sucks,” Richard said, mentioning that it was 17 degrees below zero and winds were gusting to over 30 mph.
He said it was much colder at his house located 5 miles south of the community.
“It’s really Siberia out there,” he said.
Richard said he was talking to his friend in Casper on Wednesday morning and mentioned that the sun was shining and was about 30 degrees.
“The cold front came in while we were talking on the phone,” he said. “The winds came up and it dropped more than 20 degrees while we were talking.”
Noted Wyoming outdoorsman Paul Ulrich said Pinedale was still on the warm side of things with temperatures at 25 degrees. But the wind was “making things miserable.”
“Right now, the wind is blowing approximately 730 mph and the visibility is negative 2 feet,” he said sarcastically.
“My American flag is rocking it right now,” he said of the wind.
As of 12:55 p.m. on Wednesday, here are some of the road closures in Wyoming. This is not a complete list. For the latest conditions, visit the Wyoming Department of Transportation’s website here.
— I90/US87 Sheridan to Buffalo and US 16 Ucross to Buffalo are CLOSED to due to winter conditions.
— WY28: Farson-US 287/WY 789: Closed both directions due to winter conditions.
— US14A: Between Cody and Lovell closed both directions due to winter conditions.
— US287/WY789 between Rawlins Junction (south of Lander) and Muddy Gap.
— WY135 between Riverton and Sweetwater Station.
— WY114 between Powell and Deaver.
— US310 between Frannie and Greybull.
— US14/16/20 between Greybull and Cody.