Cheyenne picked up 30.8 inches, 28 of which came down within a 24-hour window. A whopping 22.7 inches fell Saturday alone, the city’s single-greatest calendar day snow total since the start of bookkeeping in 1935.
The storm total snow accumulation fell just 1.1 inches shy of a storm in January 1949.
“A good amount of us have been here since Saturday morning,” said Matthew Brothers, a meteorologist at the Cheyenne office, reached via phone early Wednesday. “We are in the process of packing up right now and getting out now that the road got cleared late last night.”
Six meteorologists have been snowed in at the office since the weekend, working in 12-hour shifts round-the-clock. Though Wyoming is accustomed to heavy snowfalls, this event, which featured blizzard conditions, was nonetheless rare. Some places were even forced to break out large rotary-style snowplows.
Thundersnow was even reported at the office during the height of the storm.
“Most of us were definitely preparing for at least two to three days,” Brothers said. “For most of us now, we always have enough for four days. We had plenty of food in the office, but people don’t normally go without a shower for five days … but we just have extra pairs of clothes.”
Office staff were in the process of packing up and getting ready to head out around lunchtime, eager for some time off after a marathon stretch of work. With quieter weather in store, the office will temporarily be abandoned, operations set to be handled by backup offices in Riverton, Wyo., and Rapid City, S.D.
“We definitely need to get home to get some much-needed rest,” Brothers said.
The Cheyenne office will resume normal operations once the snow melts or is cleared and roads are finally passible, allowing other staff who are snowed in at their homes to make it to work.
It’s not the first time Weather Service meteorologists have had to grapple with working in stormy conditions. In December 2019, an information/technology officer at the National Weather Service office in Gray, Maine, made headlines after he drove to work on a snowmobile to shave time off his commute.
Meteorologists at the Weather Service and at television stations alike have also had to abandon their posts several times in recent years, dashing to shelter to escape tornadoes passing perilously close to their workplaces.
Flooding along the Platte River in Omaha forced the local National Weather Service office to evacuate in March 2019.