SWEETWATER COUNTY — A blizzard caused closures and other inconveniences Thursday.
A winter storm dropped 5 to 7 inches of snow in Sweetwater County between Wednesday night and 9 a.m. Thursday, according to the National Weather Service.
The storm caused Interstate 80 to close between Rock Springs and Green River.
“Generally our crews work extra hard to keep that stretch open,” said Stephanie Harsha, Wyoming Department of Transportation public information specialist. “It’s rare that we conduct a complete no authorized closure.”
She said crews have been having difficulties dealing with wind and snow accumulation.
“In my five years of working at WyDOT this is the worst snowstorm I’ve seen in this area,” she said.
Rock Springs Postal Carrier Chris Christmann said he normally works 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., but things changed after the storm hit the area.
“It’s been miserable,” he said.
He said he was having trouble getting across town.
“You can’t park, you can’t drive,” he said.
As of 1:15 p.m. Thursday, he said he was more than three hours behind scheduled and anticipated being done by 8 p.m.
The Rock Springs Police Department issued a no unnecessary travel advisory for the city Thursday morning. It was lifted as of 9 a.m. Friday.
The City of Green River also issued a no unnecessary travel advisory and it remains in effect until further notice.
City plow operators, with assistance from several other departments, are working alternating shifts in Green River in order to provide nearly continuous snow removal operations. City officials encouraged drivers to assist their efforts by staying off the roads unless absolutely necessary.
Closures and early releases
School district, college and city decided to issue closures or early releases.
Sweetwater County School District No. 1 announced an early release for classes Thursday as well as the cancellation of after-school activities including sports.
All students across the district were released by 12:15 p.m. Thursday.
Superintendent Kelly McGovern said schools would also close Friday.
The decision to cancel school was based on “current weather conditions, outlook and advisories in place,” according to a press release.
“This is not a light decision as it impacts our entire community. Thank you for your patience while proper information was gathered and a decision was made,” the press release stated.
All district classes and bus routes are scheduled to resume at their regularly scheduled time Monday.
A makeup day has not been scheduled at this time.
Sweetwater County School District No. 2 Superintendent Donna Little-Kaumo said schools will be closed on Friday.
Students were released early Thursday and all after-school activities and sports practices were canceled. No teams were scheduled to travel.
Friday’s trips for the high school indoor track and speech and debate squads were canceled.
Depending on road conditions, the Green River High School girls and boys basketball teams are scheduled to leave for Casper at 9. a.m. Friday. GRHS cheerleaders are scheduled to depart at 11 a.m. The next day the basketball teams are set to play Kelly Walsh High School.
Having set off earlier in the week, the Wolves wrestling team will compete at state in Casper while the swimming squad will finish state competition in Gillette.
Rock Springs announced the closure of city offices at 11:30 a.m. with the exception of the streets, police and fire departments.
The closures also include the Rock Springs Family Recreation Center and Rock Springs Civic Center, according to a Rock Springs Police Department press release.
Green River City Hall closed Thursday, according to Director of Human Services Cari A. Kragovich. It houses human resources, Main Street/Urban Renewal Agency, finance and community development departments, and the parks administration. Offices will remain closed Friday.
In conjunction with local Emergency Management, the Green River Recreation Center was set up as an emergency shelter Thursday for those stranded due to the storm.
Additional information about reopening the Recreation Center to the general public will be provided as it becomes available. Additionally, information regarding the Frostbite Run scheduled for is expected to be announced by mid-day on Friday.
Green River garbage collection was suspended Thursday, but resumed Friday morning with Thursday's routes being picked up first.
Green River fire and police departments continued operating as well snowplowing, snow removal and other “essential/emergency services will continue as scheduled.”
Western Wyoming Community College closed its Rock Springs and Green River campuses at 11 a.m. Thursday, Acting President Kim Farley announced.
All remaining classes and regularly scheduled campus activities, including the free community dance class, were canceled Thursday.
The campuses in Sweetwater County will remain closed Friday, according to President Karla Leach. All classes and campus activities have been canceled, including outside group activities and community education classes.
“We make these decisions with great deliberation due to the impact on instruction and operations. The safety of our staff and students is paramount in these considerations,” Leach said in a news release.
As of press time, the Labor Night basketball doubleheader on Saturday is expected to take place as scheduled. The women’s team will play at 2 p.m. while the men will follow around 4 p.m. The community dance class scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday is still on.
Any activity or schedule updates will be posted to www.westernwyoming.edu as soon as they are announced.
Snow is expected to continue into Friday, but with “no real additional accumulation,” National Weather Service Meteorologist Ralph Estell said.
Wednesday and Thursday’s storm was part of a low pressure system that came over the county and moved to the east.
Winds are expected to taper off to about 15 to 20 mph Friday, but snowdrifts remain a possibility.
Highs will hit 20 with lows in the teens. Wind chill could reach 15 degrees below zero, Estell said.
Another system is expected Sunday night and Monday, “but nothing like this.”