Tuesday afternoon temperatures approached 65 degrees in Cody.
Wednesday the temperature was in the low 20s around midday and snow was falling heavily as a winter storm was expected to drop 3-7 inches of snow throughout the day and 1-3 inches into Thursday morning.
The National Weather Service reported areas around Cody and Ten Sleep to the Big Trails could see higher amounts of snow and the mountains could see 6-12 inches. North winds were expected to be gusting as high as 30-35 mph.
“Travel could be very difficult with patchy, blowing snow significantly reducing visibility,” the report reads. “The hazardous conditions could also impact the morning or evening commutes. Cold wind chills as low as 20 below zero could cause frostbite on exposed skin in as little as 30 minutes. If you must travel, keep an extra flashlight, food and water in your vehicle in case of an emergency.”
Snow, gusty winds and plummeting temperatures were expected from the Rockies to the High Plains, according to an Accuweather report. Already Monday night, more than two dozen winter storm watches and warnings had been issued across parts of Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and South Dakota.
In preparation for the upcoming winter storm and colder weather, the National Weather Service and Wyoming Department of Transportation encourage people to build a vehicle winter safety kit and know where to get the latest weather forecasts and road conditions.
“When you travel Wyoming, you can drive long distances without services, so travelers need to be ready to wait out a storm if they become stranded,” said Tim Troutman, Riverton NWS warning coordination meteorologist. “Having a winter safety kit packed in your vehicle is a must.”
A vehicle winter safety kit should include nonperishable food, water, essential medications, blankets, flashlights and a first aid kit. Troutman said travelers should always dress for winter weather when driving and charge cell phones before departing.
“We have heard too many stories of people wearing shorts and sandals when driving across Wyoming,” he said. “Those won’t do you much good if you become stranded or are in an accident.”
Even with a winter safety kit packed in the vehicle, Troutman said travelers should be prepared to alter or cancel travel plans if hazardous driving conditions are expected.
Check the latest weather forecast at weather.gov/riverton or call the Riverton NWS office at (800) 211-1448 for the latest forecasts.
Troutman said NWS offices serving Wyoming maintain an active social media presence.
“We routinely use Facebook and Twitter to share important forecast and current weather and road conditions,” he said.
Travelers are also encouraged to check the latest WYDOT road and travel information by calling 511 or by going online to wyoroad.info. The WYDOT smart phone app provides pretrip and travel information. The app can be used to view the large WYDOT network of web cameras, a color-coded system that shows pavement conditions and traffic hazards, and it can provide traveler location information to friends and family.
“Drivers need to keep their hands on the wheel, phone down and eyes on the road,” said WYDOT public relations specialist Cody Beers of Riverton. “The Wyoming 511 pre-trip app will give you road conditions and traffic incidents for the route you are traveling, improving traveler safety.”
Beers said motorists share responsibility for protection of life and property.
“Give yourself extra time to reach your destination, drive at appropriate speeds to maintain vehicle control, always wear your seat belt, and stay well back from operating snow plows,” he said.
Troutman and Beers said their agencies routinely coordinate winter weather impacts and messaging in an effort to provide a consistent message.
“When we share the same message, it usually increases traveler confidence in what conditions to expect,” Beers said. “We want everyone to make the best possible decision when choosing where and when to travel.”