Wyoming Slammed With Late Winter Snowstorm, Roads Closed Across State
Snowfall totals ranged from several inches to two feet
- Published In: Other News & Features
- Last Updated: Feb 23, 2023
A Wyoming Highway Patrol trooper's vehicle was buried in the snow around 1 a.m. Wednesday near Arlington. (Courtesy photo from Wyoming Highway Patrol's Facebook page)
By Ellen Fike
Special to the Wyoming Truth
A massive snowstorm that blanketed much of the nation this week did not spare Wyoming from being hit and resulted in minor to major to full road closures statewide.
Businesses and organizations across the state were closed Wednesday, as most, if not all, of Wyoming saw some snow. Snowfall totals varied wildly from town to town. Lander received over a foot of snow, and the storm showed no sign of slowing down, according to the National Weather Service in Riverton. However, parts of Big Horn County only saw two inches of snow.
Some cities experienced bitterly cold temperatures in addition to snow, and the temperature in Cheyenne plummeted to around -6 degrees Wednesday evening.
Search and rescue operations took place in several counties across Wyoming as motorists found themselves stranded, according to the Wyoming Highway Patrol.
Travel across Wyoming was nearly impossible, but some truck drivers had felt the pressure since the beginning of the week, when strong winds forced the shutdown of Interstate 80 westbound from Cheyenne to Laramie.
“I-80 is essentially a 400-mile mountain pass, with elevations averaging at about 6,000 feet,” Wyoming Department of Transportation spokeswoman Jordan Achs told the Wyoming Truth. “Winter always brings challenges to I-80, especially a winter as windy and cold as this one. Snow has not had time to melt between storms, which makes for blowing snow when the wind picks up.”
When this occurs, slick spots are likely to develop and drivers have limited visibility.
I-80 was not the only road closed on Wednesday. Interstates 90 and 25 also had some sort of closure, with I-25 being completely impassable as of 6 p.m. Portions of the smaller highways across Wyoming also were closed. Achs said it was difficult to track the total number of roads closed statewide, because it is constantly changing and sometimes only small segments of the road are impacted.
Achs noted that the department has experienced personnel shortages, including snowplow operators and Wyoming Highway Patrol (WHP) troopers who are essential workers during winter storms.
“In previous storms, WYDOT and the WHP have moved forces from areas less impacted by a storm to areas with heavier impacts to help those crews,” Achs said. “However, since this storm is impacting the entire state, it is possible that levels of service, especially on lower-level roads, will be reduced…”