Wyoming’s Worst Spring Storms
As we brace for another snowstorm this week, here's a look back at five of the worst spring storms in Wyoming's history.
The May Day Blizzard of 1844 - Nearly 50 years before Wyoming officially became a state, the fur trapping industry was in full swing in and around Fort Laramie.
According to the account of fur trader Seth Ward, his party set out from Fort Laramie in route to Fort Lupton, Colorado, just as a massive blizzard rolled across Wyoming on May 1st.
Heavy snow and high winds stopped the expedition in its tracks. To make matters worse, the storm didn't let up for over a week. Ward and his men finally arrived in Fort Lupton two weeks later.
The "Great Equalizer" of 1905 - On May 3rd and 4th, 1905, a blizzard rolled through the Rocky Mountain region, killing thousands of cattle across Wyoming, Colorado, Nebraska and South Dakota.
The storm began with rainfall before turning to heavy snow later in the day. As temperatures plunged, livestock either froze to death or were trapped by huge snowdrifts caused by strong wind gusts.
In some parts of Wyoming, many ranchers upwards of 80% of their stock.
The Blizzard of 1955 - In April of 1955, a spring snowstorm settled over central and northern Wyoming.
By the time it subsided, nearly three days later, nearly 4 feet of snow had fallen in Sheridan. It still holds the mark for the most snowfall ever recorded during a single storm in Wyoming.
The Storm of 1984 - The Cowboy State was battered by a three-day storm which began on April 25, 1984.
Parts of the state recorded nearly 3 feet of snow, which quickly became 20 foot snowdrifts due to 65 mph winds. Roads across Wyoming were impassible for two days. By the time the storm had cleared, over 200,000 cattle had died.
March Madness in 2003 - On March 18th, Cheyenne set a one day record, receiving over 16 inches of snow. By the next morning, another two inches had fallen.
When the storm eventually subsided two days later, nearly three feet of snow had fallen in the Capital City alone. Of course, no spring storm is complete without heavy winds, which caused 10 foot snowdrifts in some parts of the Front Range.
Hundreds of motorists were trapped along Interstate 25 from Wyoming all the way down to New Mexico. Thousands more were stranded at Denver International Airport, which was closed due to the storm.