Wyoming Coal Mine Hit By Tornado To Resume Operations By Tuesday

About 36 hours after a large tornado ripped through part of the North Antelope Rochelle coal mine 60 miles south of Gillette, nobody remains hospitalized and operations at the mine are expected to resume by Tuesday, says mine owner Peabody Energy.

GJ
Greg Johnson

June 25, 20233 min read

Images showing the aftermath of Friday evening's tornado at the North Antelope Rochelle coal mine are being shared widely on Facebook.
Images showing the aftermath of Friday evening's tornado at the North Antelope Rochelle coal mine are being shared widely on Facebook. (Facebook)

About 36 hours after a large tornado ripped through part of the North Antelope Rochelle coal mine 60 miles south of Gillette, nobody remains hospitalized and operations at the mine are expected to resume by Tuesday.

“Last night, (the mine’s) workforce began the process of returning partial operations at the mine site,” says mine owner Peabody Energy in a Sunday morning statement. “Initially, focus will be on restoring the train loading dock and the NARM North facility, where some power has been restored.”

The company says the mine should resume loading trains with coal “within 48 hours,” but that “other parts of the mine will require powerline restoration before they can return to operation.”

Rail cars that were overturned by the tornado also have to be recovered, the company said, adding that “we are grateful that all injured personnel have been released from the hospital.”

Nobody Died

Nobody was killed when the tornado hit the mine at 6:07 p.m. Friday, although first responders assumed it could be a “mass-casualty event” until that was confirmed otherwise.

In the end, eight people were hurt and seven taken to local hospitals, Campbell County spokeswoman Leslie Perkins said in a press release. The eighth person refused medical attention.

The tornado leveled a building at the mine, flipped buses and took 12 railcars off their track. Video of the scene minutes after the tornado hit shows cars wrecked and pushed around in a parking lot, the damaged building and mine workers. None appeared hurt.

Another video posted to Twitter shortly after it hit by a storm chaser shows the large tornado moving quickly over the horizon where the mine was.
“We have what appears to be a massive tornado right here,” says Brad Walton on his video. “Holy smokes. … Look at how fast that’s moving. There’s no way that’s not a tornado.”

  • Images showing the aftermath of Friday evening's tornado at the North Antelope Rochelle coal mine are being shared widely on Facebook.
    Images showing the aftermath of Friday evening's tornado at the North Antelope Rochelle coal mine are being shared widely on Facebook. (Facebook)
  • Images showing the aftermath of Friday evening's tornado at the North Antelope Rochelle coal mine are being shared widely on Facebook.
    Images showing the aftermath of Friday evening's tornado at the North Antelope Rochelle coal mine are being shared widely on Facebook. (Facebook)
  • A train derailed by a tornado at North Antelope Rochelle coal mine in Wyoming's Powder River Basin.
    A train derailed by a tornado at North Antelope Rochelle coal mine in Wyoming's Powder River Basin. (Facebook)
  • Samuel De Leon shared this dramatic photo of the storm cell and tornado that swept through southern Campbell and northern Converse counties Friday evening.
    Samuel De Leon shared this dramatic photo of the storm cell and tornado that swept through southern Campbell and northern Converse counties Friday evening. (Samuel De Leon via Facebook)
  • In a dramatic video he posted to Twitter, Brad Wilson captured a large tornado that hit North Antelope Rochelle mine about 60 miles south of Gillette on Friday evening.
    In a dramatic video he posted to Twitter, Brad Wilson captured a large tornado that hit North Antelope Rochelle mine about 60 miles south of Gillette on Friday evening. (Brad Wilson via Twitter)

The Aftermath

It didn’t take long for images of the damage done at the mine to begin circulating on social media. Multiple Facebook, Instagram and TikTok accounts are sharing photos and video clips that show the derailed train cars, the damaged building and other mayhem.

Along with a small army of emergency responders from agencies in Campbell and Converse counties in northeast Wyoming, Gov. Mark Gordon said the state also was on alert to provide assistance as needed.

“Our hearts go out to all those impacted by (Friday’s) extreme weather events, which serve as a reminder for how serious extreme weather can be,” Gordon said. “I ask everyone to please pay attention to weather reports in their areas and be ready to take precautions.”

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GJ

Greg Johnson

Managing Editor

Veteran Wyoming journalist Greg Johnson is managing editor for Cowboy State Daily.