20190314-news-blizzard-jb-08

James Little, who is homeless in Cheyenne, is seen crossing Crow Creek during a blizzard on Wednesday, March 13, 2019, in Cheyenne. White-out conditions closed I-80, I-25, and U.S. 85, effectively closing off the state capital from Nebraska, Colorado and the rest of Wyoming. When asked where he's taking shelter from the storm, Little still said he was figuring it out. Wyoming Tribune Eagle/file

CHEYENNE – Southeast Wyoming is expected to get 10 to 16 inches of snow in a storm that starts today and will continue through Tuesday night, according to the National Weather Service office in Cheyenne.

A winter storm warning will remain in effect through 6 p.m. Tuesday. During a conference call this morning, the weather service was projecting eight to 12 inches of snow, but the projections increased during the afternoon.

With the Thanksgiving holiday approaching, travel conditions in the area will be hazardous, NWS meteorologist Andrew Lyons said. 

"It's going to extremely difficult, if not impossible, to drive through the next 12 to 36 hours," Lyons said. "This snow is going to come down very fast, and it's also going to reduce visibility by quite a bit, so it's unlikely a lot of these plows are going to be able to keep up with some of these snowfall rates."

The areas west of Cheyenne could see blizzard-like conditions, with gusting winds along Interstate 80 projected to reach 35 to 40 mph. 

The heaviest snowfall will occur overnight tonight and early Tuesday, Lyons said.

"We are expecting snow rates above an inch an hour (in that time frame), so that's going to be obviously pretty difficult to keep up with," Lyons said.

The University of Wyoming announced Sunday that classes would be canceled today and Tuesday to give students time to safely get home for the holidays.

Other closure announcements were made late this afternoon, as it became clear that wind and heavy snowfall would cause travel to become increasingly dangerous.

As of 5 p.m. today, closures were as follows:

  • Laramie County Community College closed all of its campuses at 5 p.m., and they will remain closed Tuesday.
  • The Laramie County Library will be closing at 6 p.m. Monday, and all evening events are canceled.
  • Gov. Mark Gordon announced in a tweet late Monday that Wyoming state and government offices in Cheyenne will be closed Tuesday.
  • The city of Cheyenne has announced a complete closure of non-emergency offices Tuesday. This includes staff at the Board of Public Utilities, but please call 307-637-6471 if you have a water or sewer emergency. Due to the closure, transit buses will not be available. Any unnecessary travel is discouraged during the course of this storm. The City of Cheyenne will notify employees and the public if weather will interfere with normal business operations past Tuesday.
  • Laramie County commissioners will evaluate conditions Tuesday morning to determine the level of closure for county employees.
  • Laramie County School Districts 1 and 2 have canceled all classes and scheduled activities for Tuesday in anticipation of blizzard-like conditions.
  • The Cheyenne Veterans Affairs Medical Center will open late at 10 a.m. Tuesday.
  • The Laramie County Economic Development Joint Powers Board meeting scheduled for 7 a.m. Tuesday has been canceled.
  • Peak Wellness Center Cheyenne offices will be closed Tuesday, but on-call therapists will be available for crisis situations.

While wind chill values could reach single digits during the storm, the Weather Service is not expecting any subzero temperatures, and the storm won't bring much ice, Lyons said.

NWS meteorologist Brandon Wills said wind won't be as much of a concern in the Cheyenne area. Wind gusts in Laramie County were projected to reach speeds of 25 to 30 mph around 7 a.m. Tuesday.

Cheyenne could see more snow later this week, based on current forecasts, though Lyons said it was too early to nail down details about the next storm system.

"It's looking like it's mainly going to effect western portions of the area, and it may not spill into the plains as much, so more Rawlins to Laramie, that kind of area," Lyons said of the future storm. "But again, we're kind of focused on this upcoming event."

Tom Coulter is the Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s state government reporter. He can be reached at tcoulter@wyomingnews.com or 307-633-3124. Follow him on Twitter at @tomcoulter_.

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