WHEATLAND – The blizzard of 2019. That’s what last week’s weather will be remembered as. It’s official name was Winter Storm Ulmer, but that name doesn’t really roll off the tongue very well. Intense wind gusts, drifts 10 feet and higher and over 550 miles of roads in Wyoming closed along with government offices and schools. The County declared no unnecessary travel and a plea on Facebook for residents to respect it and stay off the roads stating, “There is virtually no place to go anyway.”
To be considered a blizzard, winds must frequently gust to at least 35 mph and considerable falling or blowing snow must reduce visibility to a quarter mile or less for at least three hours. At least eight locations met that criteria last Wednesday. Two locations in Wyoming reached official blizzard criteria, Cheyenne and Torrington.
Records were broken all over the place. Casper, had its second-snowiest March day on record, picking up 13.6 inches. Cheyenne tied its fourth-heaviest calendar-day snow on record on March 13. It was only its 12th day in which at least a foot of snow fell in records dating to 1935.
Snowfall reached 26 inches south of Casper, and 14.6 inches in Cheyenne – a record snowfall. This breaks the old record of 9.3 set in 1973 in Cheyenne.
“I don’t know of anyone who was able to measure the snow here in Wheatland where it was flat and not blown. I had the weather service ask me,” said Terry Stevenson, Emergency Management Coordinator for Platte County. “We’re probably in that 10 –15 range. There are ways to measure with more sophisticated equipment, but I don’t have that.”
Law enforcement was really busy digging people out. They helped a lot of people getting stuck and then they got stuck too in the process. There were postings on Facebook apologizing for vehicles left stuck in the middle of roads and a plea that implored residents not to judge them for being out in the muck, that they didn’t have a choice to miss work.
Ranchers did lose some livestock from the weather and cold, but it appears that the damage wasn’t as bad as it could have been.
Thankfully there weren’t any in-town power outages and the Wheatland Rural Electric Association quickly fixed the outages that happened out of town. Besides the slow internet from the onslaught of activity, is seems as though Wheatland residents came through mostly unscathed.