WHEATLAND – A record-setting snowfall termed “Snowmageddon” by people in Colorado and Wyoming dumped massive amounts of snow on and near the I-25 corridor with Platte County and Laramie County getting hit the hardest.
The snowstorm was predicted to hit Thursday afternoon, but a stalling low pressure system did not bring first flakes to Platte County until noon Saturday. A steady snow began to fall and in some areas began in the form of rain.
Within 24 hours of the first flakes, the snowfall totals were at just over 24 inches in Wheatland and 20 inches in Cheyenne according to the U.S. National Weather Service Cheyenne.
By 1 a.m. Monday, Lauren Kubelka from the USNWS said that Cheyenne had broken a two-day snow total and was recording 30.8 inches of snow. The previous record was set in 1979 and that snow total was 25.2 inches.
“In the next six hours, another record could be broken for most snow in a three-day total,” Kubelka said. “It was a devastating storm and will continue with snow on and off through tomorrow night. I know it was a mess today and I can’t understand why so many people tried to travel when we were putting out warnings five days in advance about the severity of the storm.”
Sunday night a “Code Red” was being sent to phones all over Platte County with the message that read, “This is a Code Red message for all of Platte County. It is urgent that everyone stay off the roads. All potential resources are overwhelmed. If you get on the roads, you put yourself and others in danger. You will most definitely get stuck. Our resources can only take care of the worst emergencies.”
Not heeding the warnings or underestimating this storm was a mistake for many who tempted fate and tried to travel through the extreme conditions.
Platte County Commissioner Kayla Mantle posted a message that said, “Obviously we have the biggest snowstorm of decades happening and people still feel the need to get out and about. I’ve heard the scanner going off all day for people stuck here and there. It’s so hard to do your job as an essential employee during this time especially when you have unnecessary road blocks. Many people are trying their best to keep power on, hospitals accessible and our community safe. Tonight, I’m thankful for all of them. PLEASE, PLEASE stay home. There is no need to be out unless you’re having a medical emergency.”
According to Kubela, the blizzard warning will be in effect until 6 a.m. Monday and may be extended depending on the wind and the amount of snow that is still falling.
Wheatland also landed in the record books and as of 1 a.m. Monday they had reported 28.1 inches of snow, although there were reports that came into the USNWS from some people reporting totals well over 30 inches with drifts as high as 5 feet.
Guernsey which started slow, caught up in snow totals and according to the USNWS the reports were anywhere from 8 to 10 inches of snow reported.
Schools were canceled Monday along with many other businesses that were waiting on overworked plow drivers to dig them out.
There were many reports of power outages as well as cable outages due to the heavy snow that brought down power lines. In Cheyenne a transformer exploded augmenting the problem. People were stranded in both Laramie and Platte Counties at businesses, in cars and at home without power.
“I am at work snowed in at the hospital,” said Khery Otero Sunday evening. “And earlier we had a call for a guy out with hypothermia. He was trying to go to the bank in shorts and got stuck. Luckily he was just escorted back home and didn’t come in. They plowed my car in today when they were plowing the road. Emergency management is usually for 96 hours. Roads hope to open by 2 p.m. Then the disaster will really happen.”
By Saturday many things will change as temperatures are predicted to be near 50 degrees.