Blizzard brought record-low temps, inches of snow

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Monday’s bitterly cold temperatures and blowing snow felt like a cruel April Fools’ Day joke that arrived a day late.

“It sure didn’t feel like April,” said Dave Lipson, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Riverton.

The windchill plunged to single digits on Monday, and temperatures dipped even further that night and the next morning. At around 6:30 a.m. Tuesday, the temperature in Powell was just 1 degree above zero — a new record low for April 3. Previously, the lowest temperature recorded for that day was 7 degrees in 2014, Lipson said.

The spring storm also brought high winds and several inches of snow to the Powell area while dumping more than a foot of fresh snowfall in Pahaska and other areas.

Multiple crashes occurred during Monday’s blizzard, including a six-car pileup on U.S. Highway 14-A. The road was temporarily closed Monday amid the crashes and hazardous whiteout conditions.

During the blizzard, the Park County Sheriff’s Office logged 22 calls for service involving either slide-offs, motor vehicle crashes or motorist assists, said Monte McClain, communications supervisor for the Park County Sheriff’s Office.

“These calls were just the ones that we dispatched units to,” McClain said. “We answered hundreds of calls involving requests for road conditions and queries about why we closed the road.”

He said two communications officers stayed on overtime to help with the onslaught of phone calls.

U.S. Highway 14-A was closed “not because of vehicles blocking the roadway, but simply because three deputies were almost struck by out-of-control vehicles in three separate incidents by motorists who were driving too fast for conditions in the blizzard,” McClain said.

“It’s impossible for WYDOT to actually close Highway 14-A simply because there are too many connecting roads and access points,” he added.

The Wyoming Highway Patrol handled all crash investigations, he said. A representative from the patrol could not provide further details about the investigations by press time Wednesday.

From the six-car pileup, one driver was transported to Powell Valley Hospital via ambulance; a second driver drove herself to the hospital when she was able to get her vehicle pulled out to get checked out, McClain said. Both were treated and released without serious injuries, he said.

While it eventually warmed up, another cold front is coming through the area, Lipson said.

New snow accumulation of 1 to 2 inches is possible tonight (Thursday) in Powell, with wind gusts as high as 29 mph. Temperatures could dip to about 16 degrees tonight, Lipson said. Snow showers also are likely Friday, with less than 1 inch possible.

With warmer temperatures on their way, the snow likely won’t last long.

On Monday, a high near 55 is expected.

“It will really start to feel like spring by Monday,” Lipson said.

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