Much Of Wyoming Can Expect Thanksgiving From Hell Weather-Wise

Anyone in Wyoming traveling on Thanksgiving and Friday should anticipate icy conditions, delays and several inches of snow, says meteorologist Don Day. "We’re ground zero for the worst weather in the nation," Day says.

Andrew Rossi

November 21, 20235 min read

From a weather perspective, Wyoming residents can expect a Thanksgiving from hell. The question isn't whether the entire state can expect freezing temperatures and snow, it's how cold and how much snow.
From a weather perspective, Wyoming residents can expect a Thanksgiving from hell. The question isn't whether the entire state can expect freezing temperatures and snow, it's how cold and how much snow. (Wyoming Department of Transportation)

A winter storm is inviting itself to Thanksgiving dinner across the region, and Wyoming’s expected to get the worst of it.

The Cowboy State’s forecast for the four-day Thanksgiving weekend includes several inches of snow, strong winds and significantly colder temperatures. The National Weather Service Office in Riverton has issued a Winter Storm Watch from Thursday evening to Friday morning for most of north and central Wyoming.

“Thursday through Sunday is going to be a whole lot colder than it's been,” said Cowboy State Daily meteorologist Don Day. “And the snow will be falling Thursday, Friday and Saturday morning.”

North-South Snowstorm

Day said every Wyoming community can expect snow on Thanksgiving, but the start of the snowfall will vary by location. The winter weather pattern is coming in from the north and will make its way south throughout the day.

Residents in northern Wyoming can expect to wake up to snow Thanksgiving morning. Central Wyoming will see its first flakes around noon, and southern Wyoming can expect snow by sundown.

“The whole state will be under very cold temperatures and areas of light snow on Friday,” Day said. “By Saturday morning, most of the snow will be over. But the cold is going to stay into the weekend.”

How Much And How Deep?

With any winter storm, the first questions are about the depths of the expected snow and the subzero temperatures. Day wishes he could give a universal response, but Wyoming doesn’t work that way.

“The frustrating thing about Wyoming snowstorms is they never affect everyone the same. There’s always winners and losers,” he said.

High and low temperatures are easier to predict. Day expects that most of Wyoming will have daytime highs in the teens and 20s on Friday and Saturday. Daytime lows will be in the teens or possibly single digits.

Predicting snowfall is much trickier and varies by location. Day is confident that every community will get snow, and likely several inches of it.

“Places like Sheridan, Buffalo, Kaycee to Casper, and Casper to Lusk and Lander are likely to see 6 or more inches of snow,” he said. “I can see up to 10, 11, 12 inches in some of those locations. Those will be the most impacted.”

Day said this particular weather pattern tends to hit Lander hard, along with the east slopes of the Wind River Mountains and any mountain range running east-west.

Southern Wyoming communities, like Cheyenne and Laramie, will experience light to moderate snow, no more than 4 inches. As always, different areas will get different amounts of snow, but Day said there’s no escaping it this time.

“It’s going to snow on everyone,” he said.

As for accumulation, Day said the ground has stayed cool enough for the snow to stick to the ground. This will likely be the foundation for the season’s snowpack.

Even so, it won’t stick until it sticks. That’s where holiday travelers need to pay attention.

Trials For Traveling Turkeys

While the ground is cool enough for sticky snow, Wyoming’s highways aren’t there yet. Day said the first round of snow probably won’t stick on the highways, making Thanksgiving weekend travel more hazardous.

“The snow is going to melt at first,” he said. “But the arctic air that comes in will ice things up. There’s going to be melting, then freezing, then snow accumulating on top of that.”

Since weekend temperatures will likely stay below 30 degrees, ice on Wyoming’s roadways will melt very little. Conditions will remain icy for the entire weekend and probably the beginning of next week.

While many Wyomingites drive to their Thanksgiving dinners, many others catch flights. Nothing’s worse than a delayed or canceled flight on Thanksgiving weekend, historically the busiest travel weekend of the year.

Day said this weather pattern will impact the entire Intermountain West. Airports in Eastern Idaho, northern Utah and the westernmost parts of Nebraska and South Dakota will have to contend with snow and ice.

Beyond that, Day said there shouldn’t be significant travel impacts for the rest of the United States. The Midwest, Great Lakes and part of New England will get snow from this storm, but not much.

Furthermore, a weather system causing rain delays to airports in the southeastern U.S. will be gone by Thanksgiving. The most likely delays will be at regional airports in Wyoming and Colorado.

Wyoming Gets The Worst

There’s no denying it. Wyoming will have the worst weather this Thanksgiving.

“The biggest problems for travel will be right here,” Day said. “That’s not to say Chicago, Detroit and parts of the Northeast won’t have winter weather. But we’re ground zero for the worst weather in the nation.”

The “one good thing” about this winter storm is a guest for the Thanksgiving holiday. Day said that any travel impacts should be minor and manageable by the time the weekend arrives and travelers start trekking home.

“The worst weather is going to be Thursday and Friday, the least-traveled days,” he said. “The weather does get better on Saturday and Sunday. If you’re flying out then, things will be better. Hopefully.”

Andrew Rossi can be reached at

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Andrew Rossi

Features Reporter

Andrew Rossi is a features reporter for Cowboy State Daily based in northwest Wyoming. He covers everything from horrible weather and giant pumpkins to dinosaurs, astronomy, and the eccentricities of Yellowstone National Park.