A major winter storm is expected to bring snow accumulation, winds and cold temperatures to the Laramie Valley and the city starting Wednesday night, with the worst expected throughout Thursday, likely disrupting travel.
The National Weather Service has a Winter Weather Advisory in effect from 9 p.m. Wednesday until 6 a.m. Friday. Mixed precipitation is expected with a total snow accumulation of 3-6 inches and a light glaze of ice accumulations. Isolated areas in Albany County could see up to 8 inches of snow. Wind gusts could be as high as 30 mph at times.
Areas of blowing snow could significantly reduce visibility on roadways, making travel difficult or hazardous — especially on Interstate 80 west of Laramie. The snow and wind mixed in that corridor could create blizzard-like conditions, according to meteorologists.
“For those traveling between Laramie and Cheyenne, or those heading west toward Rawlins, I-80 will be impacted,” said Jared Allen, a National Weather Service meteorologist. “There could even be some localized blizzard-like conditions near Arlington and Elk Mountain in that very wind-exposed area.”
The worst times for travel, Allen said, would likely be from around noon Thursday into midnight Friday, with residual effects continuing into Friday.
“The residual impacts on the transportation corridors could linger into Friday morning, and perhaps early into Friday afternoon, but things should improve pretty quickly Friday morning, as far as the weather conditions go,” he said.
Conditions could also be hazardous for livestock.
Rain is forecasted for Wednesday afternoon when it’s expected to remain relatively warm with a high around 52 degrees fahrenheit. It should get colder that evening when there’s a 90-percent chance of rain that will then mix with snow. The NWS is expecting about an inch of snow to accumulate on Wednesday night.
“Looks like it will initially stay warm, then it will transition over (Wednesday) night into snow, and even periods of heavy snow in the valley and up against the range there going through the day Thursday, then slowly tapering off Thursday into Friday morning,” Allen said.
Thursday has a 100-percent chance of precipitation forecasted that should continue to bring a wet mix of freezing rain and snow throughout the day. Patchy, blowing snow is expected, as Allen said it should start getting windy early Thursday and continuing through the course of the day with a chilly high near 33 degrees. A north wind of 15-20 mph is forecasted with gusts up to 30 mph. Snow is likely to continue Thursday night as temperatures dip to a low around 11 degrees.
“The wind gradient should start to relax Thursday night into Friday morning,” Allen said.
There’s still a 40-percent chance of snow Friday while temperatures remain low, a high around 28 degrees, but Allen said there shouldn’t be much accumulation. Finally, it should warm up on Saturday, then another slight chance of snow on Sunday with a high near 43 degrees.
“We’re anticipating some light flurries at best on Sunday,” Allen said.