News of Riverton, Lander and Fremont County, Wyoming, from the Ranger's award winning journalists.
Late-season snow piles up again
May 1, 2013 - By Katie Roenigk and Alejandra Silva, Staff Writer
April officially became Riverton's third-snowiest on record Tuesday night due to a late spring storm that dropped more than 6 inches of snow on parts of the city.
"It looked like a beautiful Christmas morning," National Weather Service meteorologist Katy Branham said Wednesday.
Other snow totals throughout Fremont County were higher Wednesday morning, with 12 inches recorded in Lander, 14 inches reported in Sinks Canyon and 16 inches measured in Red Canyon at 6:15 a.m. according to Branham.
"We do have some fairly significant snowfall across the area," she said.
Tuesday brought the fourth major snowstorm of the month to Fremont County.
The "quick-hitting" storm started late Tuesday, she said, with most of the snow falling overnight. By midnight, she said, Riverton's snow total for April 2013 was set at 24.7 inches -- almost 5 inches shy of the city's second-snowiest April recorded in 1920. Branham said 29 inches of snow covered the county that year, with 31.7 recorded in April 1999.
"That was the snowiest April on record," Branham said.
The precipitation that continued Wednesday morning -- after April was over -- already put the new month on the list of top-10 snowiest Mays in Riverton, she continued. Branham said May 2013 was No. 6 on the list mid-morning Wednesday, when officials measured 6.2 inches of snow in Riverton.
More than seven additional inches of snow would have to fall this month to reach the 13.6-inch record set in May 2010 -- although that record is questionable because of a memorable 24-inch snowfall in May of 1975 that was documented officially at the time.
Riverton also saw precipitation on May 1, 2010, when Branham said 1.3 inches of snow fell on the city. That was the last time Riverton got snow on May 1, but Branham said late-season storms aren't unusual in the region. She said Riverton has averaged two-tenths of an inch of snowfall for the month of May since 1907.
"A lot of times we'll actually get a nice winter storm as late as Memorial Day," she said. "This is kind of how Wyoming rolls."
The city has received 60.7 inches of snowfall in total this season, Branham said.
The are still could see some "occasional flakes" falling Wednesday, when skies over Riverton remained cloudy for the most part.
"We've got some returns on the radar for some snow bands still sticking around the area, (and) it looks like the mountains, at least the Wind Rivers, will probably hold on to at least some flurries and light snowfall through midnight," she said. "But it's getting brighter, which is usually a good sign."
She predicted that the weather would clear up Wednesday evening, with drier conditions expected later this week.
"We're anticipating being back in the mid 50s by tomorrow," Branham said. "So, thankfully, it'll rebound fairly quickly. That's the benefit to these late-season storms."
The springtime precipitation tends to be stickier and heavier, and Branham said it contains more moisture than the snow that usually falls in the winter.
"(It's) a little more compacted," she said. "We may still get the same moisture content in the winter storms, but it's drier snow (in winter), so there's a lot more of it."
Police officials in Riverton said they didn't have problems with weather-related traffic accidents on Wednesday, and city employees in Riverton and Lander said they didn't send out plows Wednesday morning because the snow was melting quickly from local roadways.
Conditions were worse outside of city limits, where motorists reported slick roads. At 7:10 a.m. Wednesday emergency medical responders were called to a traffic accident on Eight Mile Road, and at about 7:30 a.m. they responded to another incident in the 200 block of Blue Sky Highway. Officials said both were weather-related slide-offs that did not involve injuries or vehicle damage.
Officials on the Wind River Indian Reservation said all five of their plows were out Wednesday clearing streets, with special care being taken on priority routes near facilities that provide medical outpatient services.
"We don't do the county roads or the state roads," Shoshone and Arapaho Tribes Division of Transportation director John Smith said. "We do what is called tribal roads."
He said his department also laid down sand on hills and at four-way stops. Smith estimated that about six inches of snow had fallen on Fort Washakie since 7 p.m. Tuesday, but by later in the day Wednesday he said streets seemed relatively clear.
"The road is warm enough where the roads are drying themselves," Smith said. "The weather is taking care of that in some spots."
He advised drivers to avoid 17 Mile Road.
"It's pretty wet and soggy because we removed the blacktop," he said. "If you can go around, consider doing that."