A powerful blizzard kept government offices and schools shuttered across southeast Wyoming for the second consecutive day Thursday, as high winds and blowing snow continued to plague the area.
Much of the state’s highway system remained closed during the day as workers dealt with drifts as high as 10 feet, according to the Wyoming Department of Transportation. Roads began to reopen later in the day.
“Again I’ll say it — stay home, stay off the roads, and stay safe,” Gov. Mark Gordon said in a statement.
Central Wyoming fared better one day after a storm blanketed the area in more than a foot of snow.
Schools in Casper and Midwest reopened Thursday after Wednesday’s blizzard forced a Natrona County School District snow day for the first time in years.
Red Creek and Alcova schools were closed, however, and there was no NCSD transportation to and from Midwest School, on rural routes or State Highway 220.
City of Casper offices also reopened Thursday after plows worked through the night to clear streets.
“The arterial and collector streets have been plowed and are passable,” a city press release said. “The streets designated as school routes have all been plowed as well.”
Streets Manager Shad Rodgers said in the announcement that most residential streets that were not plowed were packed enough to be “mostly passable.”
The Casper Streets Division planned to focus on neighborhoods like Valley Hills, Wolf Creek, Sunrise and Goodstein on Thursday, as those areas saw more accumulation. Garbage pickup was also delayed by a day. Residential trash pickup had been canceled Wednesday.
U.S. Highway 20 reopened east and west of Casper, though the Wyoming Department of Transportation warned that drivers could encounter slick roads and black ice. Parts of interstates 25 and 80 also reopened.
In the southeast corner of the state, however, a number of institutions remained closed Thursday.
The University of Wyoming canceled all classes, labs and activities Thursday, with only the Washakie Dining Center, residence halls, the High Altitude Performance Center and the training table remaining open.
The UW tennis team’s match Saturday morning against Montana has also been canceled.
Laramie County School District 1, Laramie County School District 2 and Albany County School District were all closed Thursday. State offices in Cheyenne remained closed Thursday as well. A record 14 inches of snow fell at Cheyenne’s airport on Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service.
“We need people to stay safely at home until this storm subsides so snow plow crews can clear streets and parking lots unhindered,” Gordon said in the statement.
“The safety of our people is my first consideration; we will get our state offices open and working at full speed again as soon as it is safe to do so,” he added. “As this storm subsides, I implore people to stay off the roads and out of the way so storm cleanup across the state can proceed unhindered.”
Preliminary measurements from the National Weather Service in Riverton said that 13.6 inches of snow fell on Casper/Natrona County International Airport, making it the second snowiest recorded March day in Casper history, with records going back to around 1940. It was around the ninth snowiest day in Casper regardless of month.
Casper Mountain saw 26 inches of accumulation, according to NWS, while the Casper area in general got 13-16.