The Worst Flood In Wyoming History – August 1, 1985
August 1, 1985, was one of the darkest days in Wyoming history. A tragic flash flood in Cheyenne claimed 12 lives and caused over $60 million in property damage.
The torrential storm rolled in with a fury, dropping six inches rain during the evening hours. The flooding created a deadly tidal wave which swept across the town.
"On the evening of August 1st, 1985, a devastating hailstorm struck the city of the Cheyenne, Wyoming leading to flash flooding across the city. Crow Creek, Dry Creek and the downtown sector were inundated with fast rising water from the storm. The National Weather Service Forecast Office in Cheyenne measured 6.06 inches of rainfall as the official measurement though upwards to 7.87 inches in some places in the city, all in about a 3-hour span! In addition, a one-hour rainfall total of 3.50 inches was recorded setting a new 1-hour record along with the 6.06 inches becoming the new 24-hour record for the state of Wyoming...Hailstones up to 2 inches in diameter fell with some areas seeing this hail pile up close to 1-foot tall before being swept by wind and water into 3-6 foot drifts. Thunderstorm winds blew at 70 mph. While a few funnel clouds were observed along with two short-lived tornadoes." - National Weather Service
As sirens rang out, several victims took shelter below ground and were drowned in their basements. Others were trapped inside their cars, unable to escape the rising waters. Dozens more were injured by floating debris. To make matters worse, the Cheyenne Police Department was also flooded, disabling the city's 911 system.
The death count would have been much higher if not for the heroic efforts of many, including Deputy Sheriff Robert Van Alyne, who drowned along with a little girl he dived into the rushing current attempting to save.
When the storm finally cleared, Cheyenne was a different place. And for those who still remember that fateful evening, it will never be the same.