Wyoming Arctic Blast-A-Palooza Update: Cheyenne Drops 30 Degrees In Less Than An Hour

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

The Arctic blast has almost hit all areas of Wyoming as of 2:30pm. Temperatures at Cowboy State Daily’s home office in Cheyenne have plunged drastically. It was 41 degrees in Cheyenne at noon and 25 degrees at 1pm in Cheyenne.

The temperature one hour later — at 2pm — registered 2 degrees at Don Day’s office in Cheyenne.

“Road closures galore,” Day texted Cowboy State Daily at 2:04pm.

The closures are too numerous to mention and are rapidly changing. The best way to get the latest road conditions is to go to the Wyoming Department of Transportation’s road closure page here.

Day said the best place to get a comprehensive listing of temperatures across the state is here. Unfortunately, it is only updated hourly.

Now for a look at what Wyoming citizens are reporting from their area of the state. Also — let us know what you are experiencing. Send us photos and commentary at News@CowboyStateDaily.com

Devils Tower



In Northeast Wyoming, it was already down to -10 at Ogden Driskill’s house outside Devils Tower as of 1:30 p.m.

Winds were still moderate, for the area, only blowing at about 18 MPH. But visibility was hampered by the 1-3 inches of snow that had blanketed the area the previous night. — Leo Wolfson

Gillette



It started out at minus 8 here in Gillette when I left my Air BnB for my first appointment.

In the six-minute drive it took me to get to the Campbell County Recreation center, the temperature dropped to minus 10. By the time I was finished an hour later, the temperature read minus 12.

Fred Neugeebauer told me if the windchill forecast is realized, it will be the coldest he ever remembers it getting in Gillette.

That doesn’t mean you won’t see him outside in a T-shirt. 

“You’d be surprised how many times I do shorts and a hoodie (in winter),” he said. “Maybe not this weather, but if it’s into the 20s, yeah.” — Renée Jean

Casper

Kim Walker described the weather as “frigid” in Casper on Wednesday afternoon.

“My dog didn’t even want to outside,” she said, temporarily sticking her head out from her office. “Oh my gosh it hurts. It hurts my eyeballs.”

Walker said the temperature was -15 with lightly falling snow accumulating to about a half-inch so far. She was not motivated to finish off her last-minute Christmas shopping.

“I don’t think I’m going to go anymore,” she said.

But the unseasonably cold temperature may be a somewhat welcome backdrop to the holidays for many Wyoming residents. Unseasonably mild weather has pervaded the state over the last few Christmas days.

“It’s definitely Christmas,” Walker said. — Leo Wolfson

Cody

Annalea Avery described her drive to work at the Cody Regional Health Foundation office today as “tenuous.”

“The wind was blowing and drifting, it was very hard to see,” she said. “And as soon as the sun came out and the wind stopped, it was very, very cold, and it hurt my lungs.”

Avery said the afternoon sun on the snowy landscape is actually deceiving.

“The sun is out, and the wind has kind of stopped,” she said at 1:30 p.m., “but it’s still very bitter. It’s still negative 17. So it’s giving me false hopes – out the window, it looks like it would be a lovely, nice day, yet it’s freezing.” 

The strength of the storm caught the Park County School District off-guard, and parents and staff in Cody weren’t notified about the school closures until after 7 a.m. So Avery had to find a last-minute option for her school-aged children.

“I frantically called the daycare that my kids used to go to and was like, ‘Are you open today?’” she said. “And they were able to take my kids in – and they still did their Christmas cookie decorating and all that.”

Avery’s husband Hank, who works in the water department at the City of Cody, did report for work this morning, but at around 1:30 p.m. was told to wrap up work for the day.

“They sent them home, especially those workers that are outside in the elements,” said Avery. — Wendy Corr

Kayl Mitchell, owner of the Cody branch of Allstate Insurance, said he didn’t even bother opening up his office on Wednesday morning.

“Arctic temps, wind and snow,” he explained.

According to the Weather Channel, the wind chill in Cody as of 1:50 p.m. was -44.  — Leo Wolfson

Jeffrey City

Tom Redland, a Jeffrey City firefighter, hunkered down between traffic rescue calls at the Split Rock Bar in Jeffrey City. There were about eight people in the bar, which is a crowd for the town of 47.

Redland had been called out three times so far by 2 p.m., twice to assist after a vehicular rollover and once to help a man whose car got stuck between Jeffrey City and Wamsutter. 

“We’re just waitin’ for some more,” said Redland. He said he would soon head to his shop, put some more wood on his fire, and “hunker down,” but for the time being, he was hanging out at the bar to catch up on gossip – especially about the weather.  — Clair McFarland

Casper

As Dennis Sun, a Wyoming rancher West of Casper, looked out Wednesday at a chaotic blizzard addling the ranch, Sun said that “if it stays like this, we’ll send the Californians back home, I guess.” — Clair McFarland

Riverton

Lee Rohn, snowmobile dealer in Riverton, said this weather makes him resort to profanity. 

“I’m over the cold,” said Rohn. “But I do think everyone needs to check on a California transplant.”

There’s one upside, he said: “No mosquitoes.” — Clair McFarland

Pinedale

Dave Bell in Pinedale said high winds were gusting to 40mph. Temp is 23f. 

“Have had off and on blizzard conditions starting at 8am this morn. Four or five times.  Heavy snow squalls or snow bands,” Bell wrote. — Bill Sniffin

Greybull

No measly storm is going to keep residents of Greybull down.

“Greybull is open!” said Deanna Werner, director of the Greybull Chamber of Commerce. “Most of the stores are open downtown. The diner is open, Crazy Woman Boutique is open, Queen Bee Honey is open. I’ve seen cars coming and going all day long.”

Werner said the county building is closed, but town hall is open.

“And the bars are open, of course,” she added.

At 2:00 p.m., the ambient temperature in downtown Greybull was -7, with windchill at -22. And although they didn’t get much snow – “Just enough to shovel,” said Werner – her drive to work this morning was a little treacherous.

“When I came to work this morning, visibility was sketchy in some parts,” she said. “I was the only vehicle on the road.” — Wendy Corr

Hulett

Rep. Chip Neiman fed his cows and hoped for the best. 

At 2:15 Thursday Neiman reported -18 degree temperatures on his ranch in a valley near Hulett, Wyoming with fresh snow continuing to blast in at an angle; snow devils danced across the fields. 

“It’s hard to be nice when it’s this naughty outside,” Neiman said with a laugh. “I’m looking at the birds up here in the trees wondering ‘Why?'” 

But Neiman said the storm isn’t supposed to be long-lived. He’s got the cattle near the house and the feed nearby. “We’ve got plenty of feed in front of the livestock – and that’s the best you can do for them.” 

Things aren’t as bad in the ranch, nestled between hills, as they are in the flatlands of nearby Moorcroft, said Neiman. He and his wife Joni had visited the town Thursday morning. 

“Boy those folks out in those open winds – that’s tough,” he said. “We’re better off in the hills here. Cold, but better off.” — Clair McFarland

Park County

Astrid Northrup, resident of Willwood: “It really got frigid here. It’s been a mess. We’re just going to batten down the hatches and ride it out.” 

David Northrup, also of Willwood: “Up until about 11 o’clock, it was really tough, with whiteout conditions. The snow plows were starting to get out about 10 o’clock, so they’re getting the roads cleared up. They’ll start opening up soon.” 

“The blowing snow is really tough to drive in, and cold, just bitter cold. Thirteen below, with a 20 mph wind.” 

“They shut down Park County. It was just nasty this morning.” — Kevin Killough

Fremont County

Gary Michaud the head of Fremont County’s busing system reported: “Due to hazardous weather and unsafe roads, the Wind River Transport Authority is closed for the remainder of today (Wednesday, 12/21) and tomorrow (Thursday, 12/22). 

WRTA will also be closed on Friday (12/23) and Monday (12/26) for Christmas.

Staff Observations

Photo by Clair McFarland

Riverton

It’s 1:16 p.m. and Riverton is a snow globe in the sugar-glazed hands of a manic toddler on caffeine. The snow is blasting horizontally, fragmentally. The barn cats vanished in an indignant huff. I’ve sent the boys out to fetch wood while I brood over a black and orange fire whimpering under the chimney’s frigid scolding blasts. Some of the windows’ collected lower frost shelves are climbing in sharp arcs up their sides.  — Clair McFarland

Laramie

This reminds me only vaguely of the winter of 1983 in Butte, Montana. It was cold enough to freeze a fart in mid-air when some buddies and I got the hare-brained notion to go outside and play basketball. — Mark Heinz

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