Looking Back: Snowpocalypse 2021 Blasts Cheyenne!
A record-setting storm hit Cheyenne and Southeast Wyoming one year ago. The storm shut down schools and businesses, government offices, and travel for several days.
The Cheyenne Office of the National Weather Service issued this warning on March 13, 2021:
…HISTORIC AND CRIPPLING WINTER STORM WILL SIGNIFICANTLY IMPACT ALL OF SOUTHEAST WYOMING AND THE WESTERN NEBRASKA PANHANDLE THIS WEEKEND… …WIDESPREAD BLIZZARD CONDITIONS DEVELOPING LATE TONIGHT INTO EARLY SUNDAY…TRAVEL WILL BE EXTREMELY DANGEROUS OR IMPOSSIBLE OVER MUCH OF THE AREA… …CONDITIONS UNLIKELY TO IMPROVE UNTIL AT LEAST EARLY MONDAY…
While predicting the weather in southeast Wyoming is often a bit dicey, and winter storms aren’t always all they are cracked up to be, the forecasters absolutely got this one right.
If anything, it may have been a little worse than predicted.
— Charles Peek (@CharlesPeekWX) March 14, 2021
As the storm hit the Cheyenne area on March 13, city snowplows were rapidly overwhelmed, and many found themselves stuck in the snow. Blowing snow and deep drifts in some areas added to the problem. City officials were, remarkably, forced to call the plows back in as the snow continued to accumulate.
The situation only worsened as Sunday, March 14, dawned. A record-setting 26 inches of snow fell on Cheyenne over the course of March 13 and 14, and some unofficial readings from parts of the city and rural Laramie County exceeded even that amount.
Winter storm Xylia packs punch – Colorado, South Dakota, Wyoming and Nebraska are among states affected. "Cheyenne received its biggest snowfall on record: 30 inches." Be careful out there, tow ops. https://t.co/ngW5JG3MQd pic.twitter.com/HI2Buswro6
— Tow Times Magazine (@TowTimesMag) March 15, 2021
By the 14th, city officials were asking residents to shelter in place.
The storm continued to dump snow on the area through March 15, with about another five inches of snow falling on Cheyenne that day. By March 16, the list of closures was a long one, with virtually all non-essential government offices, schools, and most private businesses closed.
The effect was statewide as well, with WYDOT reporting one snowplow near Riverton being stranded for hours.
Many remained closed through most of the week, and crews did not clear many side streets in the city for several days. Even Cheyenne residents with four-wheel drive vehicles found themselves snowed for most of the week unless they lived along the main thoroughfare.
By March, 19 things were slowly returning to normal, and the storm gradually became a vivid memory in an area where severe winter storms are almost routine. The weather channel gave the storm an official name, dubbing it ”Winter Storm Xylia.” But, Wyoming locals prefer to refer to it as Snowpocalypse 2021.
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