Schools, businesses and government offices across southern and eastern Wyoming closed on Wednesday in the face of a strong winter storm expected to bring up to 20 inches of snow and high winds to the region.
A blizzard warning was in effect from Cheyenne east to Saratoga and north to the Montana border until Thursday evening, with the National Weather Service predicting snowfall of up to 10 to 22 inches of snow at lower elevations and up to 3 feet of snow above 8,500 feet.
Coupled with forecasts for winds of hip to 65 mph, the weather service said the storm would create blizzard conditions throughout the region. Wind gusts were already topping 50 mph on in Cheyenne on Wednesday morning.
The storm forced the closure of Interstate 80 between Cheyenne and Rock Springs by Wednesday morning, along with Interstate 25 between Cheyenne and Buffalo. Interstate 80 from Rock Springs to the Utah border were open, but reported slick with snowfall and limited visibility. Accidents dotted the interstate between Cheyenne and Rawlins.
Most state and U.S. highways in southeastern Wyoming were also closed.
Gov. Mark Gordon, in a news release announcing the closure of state offices in Cheyenne, urged people in southeastern Wyoming to stay out of the weather.
“This storm has the potential to be particularly dangerous,” he said. “My advice is to stay put and shelter in place. Stay home, stay off the roads and stay safe and warm.”
Closures of Cheyenne schools and non-essential government offices were announced Tuesday as officials watched the approach of the storm.
“District officials typically do not cancel school based on a weather forecast,” the district said in a news release. “However, in this situation, anticipated storm impacts including heavy snow and sustained wind gusts will take place at the time when school would release. Our primary concern is the safety of our students, parents and staff.”
Also closed in Cheyenne were state offices and the Cheyenne Regional Airport.
Other closures included schools and government offices in Laramie, Casper, Newcastle, Wheatland, Chugwater, Glendo and Torrington.