Former Campbell County Commissioner and Gillette City Councilman Stephen F. Hughes, 66, was found dead inside his business, Landmark Inc., early Friday morning, according to information released by …
A relatively quiet start to the winter is about to come to an abrupt end.
Heavy snow, high winds and plummeting temperatures will batter northeast Wyoming starting Thursday night, according to Katie Pojorlie, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Rapid City, S.D.
A system of cold air from the north will bash into a low pressure system headed toward Campbell County from the south to create blizzard-like conditions that will begin late Thursday and run through Saturday morning. The storm is expected to dump more than 6 inches of snow over a large portion of northern Wyoming and southern Montana, Pojorlie said.
Some areas of Montana could get as much as a foot of snow.
But forecasters won’t know where the heaviest snow will fall until later Thursday when the storm moves into the area and its track solidifies, she said.
“You kind of might be in the middle of it,” she explained.
The potential for heavy snow has caused the city of Gillette to declare a snow emergency at a level that prohibits people from leaving vehicles parked along emergency snow routes in Gillette.
“This is just to help our snow crews,” city spokesman Joe Lunne said. “Now that we’ve declared it, the community service officers are out on those routes trying to make contact with those people (whose vehicles are parked along the streets).”
The declaration gives the city the power to tow vehicles that are not moved from the street before the storm begins. It is the first time since the ordinance was passed in January 2012 that a snow emergency has been declared, Lunne said.
The storm will cause temperatures to fall drastically, hitting a low of minus 7 degrees Saturday night, according to the weather service.
Those bitterly cold temperatures will combine with winds as strong as 40 mph to push windchill factors below minus 20 degrees, Pojorlie said.
In addition, the wind likely will cause areas of blowing and drifting snow that will make travel difficult and dangerous.
The forecast may make many people uneasy, but there is at least one person in Gillette who gets excited when he sees the two weather fronts converging over the area.
Bryan Miller, president and owner of Perfect Painting and Pro Built Homes, has been on a hiring spree since the first winter storm watch was issued by the weather service.
“This is actually, as far as the 2012-13 season, this is the first time they’ve put out any storm watches,” he said. “Over the course of the last few days, we realized we would get a direct hit.”
Miller expects to deploy more than 30 workers to clear sidewalks and parking lots in Gillette beginning early Friday. Those workers will run 22 trucks, a handful of loaders and will include three sidewalk crews, he said.
“If we get 6 to 10 inches of snow, we’ll see 4- and 5-foot-tall drifts on properties we clear,” he said. “We expect an extremely long day tomorrow.”
The storm, the first direct hit for Gillette since New Year’s Eve last year, will mean about a week of work for Miller’s crews. During the storm, they will begin by keeping parking lots and sidewalks cleared. Then during the weekend, after the brunt of the storm is gone, the cleanup will begin.
“Until we get it all cleared and stacked, we’ll run around the clock,” Miller said.
But Miller will not know exactly how long his crews will work until the snow hits.
And the weather service isn’t helping him make any predictions.
“The exact track of the heaviest snow is still not clear,” the weather service reported in an updated advisory Thursday morning. “Uncertainty remains with the specific impact this storm will have on the area.”
Nonetheless, Miller will be ready for snow, and a lot of it.
1) 6th Street from Burma Road to 4-J Road.
2) 4th Street from 4-J Road to Gurley Avenue.
3) Gurley Avenue from 12th Street to 4th Street.
4) 4-J Road from 2nd Street to 8th Street.
5) Brooks - 2nd Street to Warlow.
6) 9th - Butler Spaeth to U. S. 59.
7) Foothills Blvd. - U.S. 14-16 to Echeta Road.
8) 7th Street - U.S. 59 to 4-J Road