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Storm makes travel around southeastern Wyoming difficult

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By Cowboy State Daily

The Wyoming Highway Patrol urged drivers in southeastern Wyoming to stay off of roads as a strong storm blasting the region with snow and brisk winds left highways icy.

Sgt. Jeremy Beck of the Wyoming Highway Patrol said although the snow that fell during the day Wednesday only left roads wet, dropping temperatures would turn that water to ice.

“We’re expecting the temperatures to drop a little bit and that will cause all the melted snow that’s on the roadway right now to freeze up, which will cause the roadways to get pretty slippery and icy and … hazardous for people to drive on,” he said. “It’s very hard to maintain traction on icy roads and also, once you get some snow over the top of that, it can really cause … treacherous driving.”

Most highways in eastern Wyoming remained open on Wednesday evening, although Interstate 80 east of Cheyenne was closed because of weather conditions in Nebraska.

As the storm hit eastern Wyoming, schools and government offices in Cheyenne, Torrington and Gillette were closed and Goshen County School District officials announced that classes would be canceled for Thursday.

The storm was expected to continue through Wednesday and into Thursday, with more snow and high winds expected overnight. Snow was predicted to taper off on Thursday before ending on Friday.

Schools close in advance of predicted blizzard

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By Cowboy State Daily

Schools in eastern Wyoming closed Wednesday in anticipation of a winter storm expected to bring blizzard conditions to portions of the state.

Schools in Goshen and Campbell counties were closed and Laramie County schools were set to release students early in the face of the storm expected to drop from 4 to 8 inches of snow on Cheyenne and up to 15 inches of snow on Lusk.

Heavy, wet snow began falling in eastern Wyoming on Wednesday morning, but Jeff Garmon, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Cheyenne, said as temperatures dropped through the day, the snow would become less wet and more prone to being pushed by winds expected to gust to 55 mph in some areas.

“It’s going to be a little deceptive,” he said. “We expect conditions this afternoon to start going downhill.”

A blizzard warning was in effect for southeastern Wyoming from Laramie and Cheyenne north to Torrington and Wheatland, while most of the rest of eastern Wyoming was under a winter storm warning.

Highways remained open throughout the state Wednesday morning, but roads around Cheyenne and Torrington were reported to be slick in spots.

The predicted high winds prompted the Weather Service to issue the blizzard warning for southeastern Wyoming and the Nebraska Panhandle, Garmon said.

He added that while snowfall had tapered off Wednesday morning, the fluffier, lighter snow was expected to move north into the region by the afternoon, creating blizzard conditions.

“I’d say by 3 p.m., things will look a lot different,” he said. “You can’t judge it by what’s outside the window right now.”

Another blizzard poised to hammer southeast Wyoming

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By Cowboy State Daily

Residents of southeastern Wyoming braced for yet another blast of snowy and windy weather as a blizzard warning went into effect in advance of a strong storm expected to bring up to 12 inches of new snow to the region by Thursday.

The National Weather Service issued the blizzard warning for Goshen, Laramie and part of Albany counties on Tuesday, warning residents that freezing rain would precede the snow and wind on Wednesday, making travel difficult.

Much of the rest of the state was under a winter storm warning.

The storm hit less than a month after a blizzard that paralyzed southeastern Wyoming in mid-March and less than 24 hours after mild weather that saw temperatures reach the 70s on Tuesday.

“Unfortunately, when we have these big warm-ups this time of year, that’s an indication there’s something bad coming,” said Don Day, a meteorologist and owner of Day Weather.

Day said this week’s storm may not be as strong as the one seen in March, but it will still have an impact.

“It’s going to be very difficult to top that storm (in mid-March),” he said. “This one on its own, though, will be pretty strong.”

Forecasts called for snowfall to range from 6 to 12 inches in Cheyenne to 4 to 10 inches in Douglas and 7 to 15 inches in Lusk.

Day said the winds accompanying the storm, expected to gust to 55 mph, would cause most of the problems.

“We have seen storms that have dropped more snow in the past, but we’re going to have just enough snow with a lot of wind again,” he said. “And the wind is going to cause probably the biggest problems with the blowing and drifting of the snow.”

The weather will create dangerous conditions for livestock, Day said, especially for ranches that were hit by the last blizzard.

“A lot of folks who took it hard are going to get hit hard again,” he said.

Conditions are expected to improve by Saturday, when high temperatures will reach the high 40s and low 50s.

Storm brings second day of shutdown for Cheyenne

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Cheyenne residents dig out from bomb cyclone blizzard
Brittney and Bryson Purvis dig out from the blizzard that hit southeastern Wyoming March 13. (Credit: Mike McCrimmon)

By Cowboy State Daily (Last updated March 14 at 5:50PM)

Traffic began to move again in southeastern Wyoming on Thursday as a major winter storm that swept through the area Wednesday moved out of the region.

After dumping 14 inches of snow in Cheyenne and forcing the closure of schools, government offices and businesses for one to two days, the winds measured at up to 65 mph abated, leaving residents to dig out.

“There is significant digging out to be done with snow drifts much taller than I am,” said Cheyenne Mayor Marian Orr. “The best advice I can offer is to stay off the roads and let the city crews continue to clear some pathways.”

Schools, city and county offices and state offices remained closed Thursday as windy conditions continued in the morning, causing snow to drift and reducing visibility.

Also closed for most of Wednesday and Thursday morning were all highways leading in and out of Cheyenne. But by Thursday afternoon, Interstate 25 was open north of Cheyenne. Interstate 80 remained closed east and west of Cheyenne and the state Department of Transportation had no estimate as to when it might open.

The blizzard warning issued by the National Weather Service for eastern and southern Wyoming was due to expire by 6 p.m. and conditions were expected to improve into the weekend, with high temperatures expected to reach the 40s.

The storm was one of the strongest seen in more than a decade, coupling heavy snow with winds gusting to 65 mph.

The storm extended from Denver to the Dakotas, making it the largest seen in almost 40 years.

“I’ve been told that we have not seen a storm of this nature since the Thanksgiving blizzard of 1979 and the 2003 storm,” Gov. Mark Gordon said in a news release. “Reportedly, it has the same intensity as a Category 1 hurricane.”

Update: Highways, offices to remain closed Thursday as major storm pummels Wyoming

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Update from our Robert Geha in the midst of this winter bomb cyclone.

By Cowboy State Daily (Editor’s note: this story will be updated throughout the day. Last updated 7:00PM, March 13, 2019.)

Traffic in southeastern Wyoming ground to a halt on Wednesday as interstate, U.S. and state highways throughout the region were closed by a strong winter storm.

Businesses, schools and government offices in Cheyenne shut down as the storm raged through the region, with heavy snow and winds gusting to more than 50 mph dropping visibility to near zero.

A number, including Laramie County School Districts No. 1 and 2 and the Laramie County government offices, planned to remain closed through Thursday, when the storm hammering an area from Denver to the Dakotas was expected to release its grip on the region.

The National Weather Service issued a blizzard warning through Thursday night for Laramie and Goshen counties and for the western Nebraska panhandle.

The City of Cheyenne, Laramie County School District No. 1 and the Cheyenne Regional Airport made their decisions Tuesday to close for Wednesday and the State of Wyoming followed suit early Wednesday morning, when Gov. Mark Gordon urged people to stay out of the weather.

“This storm has the potential to be particularly dangerous,” he said in a news release. “My advice is to stay put and shelter in place. Stay home, stay off the roads and stay safe and warm.”

Echoing that advice was the state Department of Homeland Security’s Deputy Director Leland Christensen.

“The message from Homeland Security is take care of your family, stay home and no unnecessary travel,” he said. “If there is a problem, rather than venture out, reach out to your officials and see if we can’t get you some help.”

As conditions deteriorated Wednesday, the Wyoming Department of Transportation closed Interstate 80 from Cheyenne west to Rock Springs and north to Buffalo. Accidents dotted Interstate 80 from Cheyenne to Rawlins.

U.S. and state highways throughout southeastern Wyoming were closed due to slick conditions and limited visibility. The Wyoming Transportation Department offered no estimate for when the roads might be open again.

As roads in and out of Cheyenne closed, truck drivers parked at truck stops or on roads nearby and prepared to spend a day or two waiting for the highways to open again.

At the Flying J Travel Center south of Cheyenne, employees said all 195 of the facility’s semi truck parking spaces were full.

“We have lots of drivers here,” said Amanda Gladgo. “They’re parked on the roads, too.”

Scattered power outages were also reported in rural Laramie County and near Glendo.

Storm conditions prompted the Red Cross to open a shelter at the Converse County National Guard Armory.

The storm was predicted to be the most widespread blizzard in almost 40 years, stretching from Denver north through southeastern Wyoming and into the Nebraska panhandle and Dakotas.

The historic nature of the storm drew a crew from The Weather Channel to Cheyenne on Wednesday.

A number of communities across southern and eastern Wyoming joined Cheyenne in shutting down schools and government offices, including Torrington, Laramie, Casper, Newcastle, Glendo and Chugwater. The University of Wyoming closed its classes at about 1 p.m. Wednesday.

Don’t put away your snow shovels just yet…

in News/weather

In Wyoming, we get our biggest snow storms in the March, April, and May.

We get you up to speed on what to expect from spring weather with Don Day.

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