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Winter Storm Batters Natrona County and Central Wyoming

March 18, 2003 -  A nearly stationary low pressure system over southeast Colorado, with origins over the Pacific Ocean, pumped moisture north from the Gulf of Mexico into central Wyoming beginning on Monday, March 17. As the low deepened, north to northeast winds in the lower troposphere increased across central Wyoming by early Monday morning. This wind direction resulted in upslope flow for much of central Wyoming. Warm temperatures kept a rain and snow mix through Monday at many lower elevation sites; however, snow did accumulate in Casper, Lander, and surrounding higher terrain on Monday and Monday night. By sunrise Tuesday a fetch of moisture from the Gulf of Mexico reached the region producing heavy snow into the afternoon hours. Favored upslope locations, including Casper and the eastern Wind River Mountains, received from one to two feet of snow, while Casper Mountain (south of Casper) reported three to four feet. Snowfall elsewhere generally ranged from four to ten inches. Gusty north to northeast wind of 20 to 40 mph prevailed through much of the event. The combination of wind and snow closed many state highways and portions of Interstates 25, 80, and 90 around the WFO Riverton County Warning Area by late Monday night. Snow drifts of four to eight feet in height were common throughout Natrona county. The winter storm prompted the closing of city schools in Casper on Tuesday.  Mail trucks stranded across Wyoming and Colorado, and the closing of Denver International Airport, halted mail service to many locations in central Wyoming.

Storm Total Snowfall, March 17-18, 2003
Location Snowfall (Inches)
Casper Mountain 36 to 48
Near Bessemer Bend 19
Sinks Canyon (south of Lander) 18 to 24
South side of Casper 18 to 24
Powder River 15
Jeffrey City 14
Owl Creek Mountains 12 to 18
Big Horn Mountains 12
Near Independence Rock 12
Hiland 12
Sweetwater Station 12
Casper 12 to 18
Alcova 10 to 14
Kemmerer area 6 to 12
Casper Airport 10
Arminto 10
Lake De Smet 9
Mayoworth 8
North of Lost Cabin 8
Bar Nunn 7
Big Trails 7
Little America 7
Hudson 7
Lander 5 to 6
Reliance 5
Boysen Dam 4 to 6
Buffalo 4 to 6
Riverton 3 to 5
Rock Springs 3 to 5
Superior 3 to 4
Wamsutter area 1 to 4
Kaycee 2 to 3
Near Ft. Washakie 2
Thermopolis 1 to 2
Lysite 1
Kinnear 1
Pavillion Less than 1 inch
Shoshoni Less than 1 inch
Kirby Less than 1 inch
Dubois Less than 1 inch

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