Wyoming Slammed With Snow, Sub-Zero Temperatures

Cities prepared as storm shut down much of the state last week

A snow squall blasted Cheyenne last week, causing white out conditions. (Courtesy photo from Adrianna True)

By Ellen Fike

Special to the Wyoming Truth

While no Wyomingite is a stranger to the snow or cold, this week’s storm brought dangerous temperatures and hazardous travel conditions to the Equality State. Over 100 car crashes were reported in a 12-hour period, according to the Wyoming Highway Patrol.

Wyoming, like much of the nation, saw frigid  temperatures due to an arctic blast—a front of cold air moving in from the arctic.

In Cheyenne and Laramie, temperatures plunged to a frosty -25 degrees Fahrenheit between Wednesday night and Thursday morning, according to the National Weather Service. Casper, Riverton and Worland experienced even colder temperatures, ranging from -35 to -45 degrees.

Snow squalls also popped up across the state. A video from a Wyoming Highway Patrol trooper showing those white-out conditions in Cheyenne gained traction on social media after it was shared Wednesday evening.

Wyoming Department of Transportation spokeswoman Jordan Achs said all five of the WYDOT districts saw at least some impact from the winter weather. But areas such as South Pass, Muddy Gap and the Interstate 25 and Interstate 80 corridors experienced disruptions, which then impacted drivers from Colorado.

“Limited visibility was certainly a major impact from this storm,” Achs told the Wyoming Truth. “Plow drivers were having a hard time seeing just a few feet in front of the plow. Additionally, when we see really strong winds like the ones this week, the blowing snow often fills back in behind the plow in just a few minutes.”

Achs said WYDOT saw some light, high-profile vehicles involved in blow over crashes, particularly in the Elk Mountain area, where wind gusts of up to 87 MPH were recorded mid-week.

Meanwhile, the Wyoming Highway Patrol responded to over 787 calls for service, 196 motorist assists and 104 crashes in a 12-hour period of the storm. 

“Plow operators and troopers see some of the worst weather conditions Mother Nature throws at the state and are no strangers to frigid winds and blizzard conditions,” Achs said. “The extreme cold and wind chills certainly posed challenges for troopers and plow operators who were out in those dangerous conditions assisting stranded motorists, responding to crashes and trying to keep communities connected and the public safe.”

Cheyenne Police Department spokeswoman Alex Farkas said officers were out in the community, encouraging citizens to be alert and vigilant.

“Officers were patrolling the streets for transient individuals to advise them of the drop in temperatures and to seek refuge where they can,” Farkas said. “We worked closely with the COMEA Shelter [a Cheyenne homeless shelter] on this effort.”

The freezing temperatures even caused travel issues for the University of Wyoming’s men’s basketball team—all the way in sunny Phoenix. On Thursday, the team’s return flight to Denver was delayed for three hours before being cancelled, said Kaycee Clark-Mellott, a radio producer and contributor to the Wyoming Truth who accompanied the team to Arizona.

Many on the trip found other flights and bought tickets to return home for Christmas, Clark said. Eventually, those remaining left town on a charter bus for the two-day drive back to Wyoming, with an overnight stop in Santa Fe, N.M.

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