A winter storm sweeping through Laramie on Thursday morning left a decent amount of snow, but not much else, highway and weather officials said.
While the National Weather Service in Cheyenne estimates Laramie received 2-4 inches, Sgt. Kyle McKay of the Wyoming Highway Patrol said the roads produced far fewer accidents than a storm that hit Laramie one week ago, resulting in 63 crashes.
“We haven’t had any road closures and most of the calls we’ve been sent to are slide-offs,” McKay said.
“Nothing major going on right now — the conditions are just blowing through.”
He added Wyoming drivers should be prepared, in case they also find themselves stranded on the side of the road.
“Make sure that if you do slide off the road, (you) stay with your vehicle,” McKay said. “Help will be there shortly. Make sure — if you can — to carry some emergency flares in case you go down an embankment.
“That way, you can set a flare on the side of the road.”
Drivers can stay safe on the road by being prepared for accidents and slide-offs, McKay said.
“When you’re traveling throughout this holiday season, make sure that your car is prepared, you’ve got proper tires, windshield wipers, you’re driving on a full tank of gas, you’ve got a fully charged cell phone, blankets, extra clothing, some snacks in the vehicle in case you are stranded for a period of time,” he said.
The National Weather Service bases its snowfall estimates on both official observers stationed in Laramie and volunteer observers belonging to the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow network, said Chris Hammer, a National Weather Service meteorologist.
He added a range — such as 2-4 inches — is generally given because snowfall can vary from one part of Laramie to another.
“There are some terrain differences,” he said. “You can get some areas that might be a little bit closer to the Laramie range on the east side. If you had a little upslope there, you could potentially get a higher amount there. You can get some variable amounts across town.”
The range can also vary given the discrepancy between precipitation and accumulation and the National Weather Service’s reliance, in part, on untrained volunteer observers.
“There is a difference between snow depth and snowfall,” Hammer said. “So, what can happen is when (precipitation) falls, it can actually — especially with a warmer ground — it can have a tendency to compact as it falls. So, you might actually get 3 inches of snowfall, but by the time the snow ends, you might only have an inch on the ground.”