Blowing snow, low temperatures lead to multiple accidents and closures along I-80 – Sheridan Media

This story first appeared on Cowboy State Daily

By Jennifer Kocher, Cowboy State Daily

Gusts of wind, cold temperatures and blowing snow led to multiple crashes and closures across southern Wyoming on Friday as motorists on Interstate 80 waited for inclement weather as a winter storm blew through the southern corner. western state.

According to Sgt. Jeremy Beck, WHP public relations spokesperson.

To his knowledge, Beck said none of the crashes resulted in fatalities.


As of Friday afternoon, all eastbound lanes on the 1-80 between Evanston and Cheyenne were being phased out with an estimated opening time of 7-9pm.

All lanes in both directions of the highway between Rawlins and Laramie were closed on Friday afternoon as drivers were diverted to hotels, truck stops and businesses in nearby towns.

The goal of implementing the phased closures is to alleviate the burden of disrupted traffic on towns and villages along the 1-80 corridor.

The technique allows stranded drivers to proceed to the next location for better access to parking, fuel, hotel, restaurants and other services when a particular city is reaching its maximum capacity.

The phased shutdowns took effect on Friday, said Jordan Achs, senior public affairs specialist for WYDOT, who added that the comments so far have been positive.

“We don’t want people to be stuck with no place to stay or no resources during long-term shutdowns,” she said.

WYDOT and the Wyoming Highway Patrol are working together to contact hotels and businesses in these towns and villages to monitor resources. Friday’s storm was fairly localized, Achs noted, with a large amount of fallen snow blown by high winds at higher elevations.

The gusts between Laramie and Rawlins were measured at 70 mph.

Over the past day, the southern border received 5 to 10 inches of snow, with some spots reaching 13 inches, according to meteorologist Don Day.

Despite the weather conditions, some drivers blew past the snow barriers closing the highway and got stuck.

Achs wasn’t sure how many vehicles had done it, but she said rescuing vehicles and bringing drivers to safety diverted resources from other tasks.

She added that ignoring a snow barrier results in a fine of $ 750.

“It can be frustrating for commercial truck drivers,” she said. “But these closures are for their health and safety. “

Wait for it

Mark Telkamp didn’t expect to be going somewhere too early Friday afternoon.

The driver of the MG Oil / Heartland jet fuel truck was parked at the Love’s Travel stop in Green River and settled in for a long wait while the WYDOT snow plow drivers worked on clearing 1-80.

It was his second stop of the day. It had been parked on the road in Rock Springs for the 13 hour storm wait and drove about 45 miles before being pulled over due to freeway closures.

It’s just part of the job, Telkamp said. He’s been trucking Wyoming for 25 years and being pulled over by the weather is normal.

“I feel resigned,” he said, “but that doesn’t mean it’s fun.”

Watch out for plows

A reported 15% shortage of snowplow operators this year had no impact on the department’s work on Friday, Achs said.

She added that with the storm being confined to the southwestern corner of the state, the department has no trouble meeting staffing needs with available workers.

In the event of significant snowfall, the ministry will move resources to the most affected areas.

That said, snowplows in general have had a tough few years, with more hits by operators in the past two years than at any time in the history of the department, Achs said. She didn’t have readily available numbers, but she encouraged drivers to stay behind and give snowplows space to work.

“Sometimes the plows can create their own white sails,” she said. “Please give them space to do their work. “

Up-to-date road closures can be found on WYDOT.

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