April (snow) "showers"
April 6, 2023
It was no April Fool's joke when a winter storm effectively shut down Wyoming at the beginning of the week.
With a winter storm watch in effect from 11 p.m. Sunday night to 6 p.m. Tuesday night that was predicted to bring possible snow accumulations of 10 to 15 inches, the forecast actually wasn't as bad as the actual storm.
The US National Weather Service Office in Riverton reported that Rock Springs had received 9 to 13 inches of snow by 7 p.m. Monday evening. By noon on Tuesday, Green River was estimated to have gotten 13-17 inches total, and Rock Springs was estimated to have gotten 15-20 inches.
Other areas of the state were hit even harder, with Casper getting 26.7 inches of snow on Monday, setting the city's all-time daily snowfall record for any day of the year, with records dating back to 1937. By noon on Tuesday, Casper was estimated to have gotten 25-35 inches, most likely breaking the all-time biggest snowstorm record, which was 31.3 inches and was set from Dec. 23 and 24, 1982. Casper Mountain was estimated to have gotten a full four feet of snow between both days.
Final snowfall estimates were predicted to be even higher since snow continued later on Tuesday in many locations.
Interstate 80 was closed across the state for much of the storm, as is usually the case. But things got so bad that local law enforcement even closed down the stretch of I-80 between Green River and Rock Springs to all local traffic as well.
At 6:42 a.m., law enforcement issued a "no unnecessary travel" advisory for all of Sweetwater County. The Sweetwater County Sheriff's Office advised there were blizzard-like conditions and most local roads were impassable. The sheriff's office also said there were multiple search and rescue missions for stranded and stuck motorists underway.
By 6:55 a.m., the sheriff's office, in coordination with the Wyoming Department of Transportation, announced that I-80 between Green River and Rock Springs was closed to all local traffic "due to multiple crashes, slide-offs in shoulder burrow ditches and median, and stuck or stranded motorists."
Both the Green River Police Department and Rock Springs Police Department also advised no unnecessary travel in the cities.
After persevering through the weather on Monday, many organizations planned on having a late start or delayed opening on Tuesday, but ended up closing for the day.
Western Wyoming Community College opened on Monday, but closed by 9 a.m., making the decision to stay closed for the storm the rest of Monday and all of Tuesday.
Sweetwater County School District No. 2 initially announced a "late start" day for Tuesday, with classes beginning at 10 a.m., but by 6:45 a.m. the district announced all classes were canceled and the schools would remain closed.
The City of Green River hoped to have city buildings open by noon Tuesday, but decided at 11 a.m. to keep everything closed for the day, even moving the City Council meeting to Wednesday night.
The Sweetwater County Board of County Commissioners similarly decided to postpone Tuesday morning's meeting to Thursday morning instead. The county also gave up on their plan to open county buildings by noon and decided to stay closed for the day.
Most local businesses also decided to take a snow day and remain closed.
The Southwest Wyoming Regional Airport managed to remain open through Tuesday, but strongly encouraged anyone traveling Tuesday evening or Wednesday morning to make arrangements to be picked up or dropped off as the parking lot had three to five feet of snow across it.
"While Casper is catching all the attention for a record breaking storm...we would argue that this one should be in the record books for RKS," the Southwest Wyoming Regional Airport Facebook page posted Tuesday morning.