WYDOT officials in southeast Wyoming are preparing this week for the most challenging high country snow removal campaign in decades.

Full operations including the rotary plows, dozers, and snowcats needed to open WYO 130 between Centennial and Saratoga are scheduled to begin on May 9. This is a week earlier than usual to get a head start on snow pack in the Snowy Range currently averaging 193 percent of normal and rising from ongoing precipitation and consistently cold temperatures.

A snowmobile trip up the roadway by WYDOT officials on April 27 revealed six feet of snow on Libby Flats which is an area that is historically swept clear by the wind. The outhouse by Lake Marie is buried to the roof pipes. Another location on WYO 130 is blocked by a 40 yard drift rising 25 feet above the roadway.

On the Saratoga side, WYO 130 is blocked with snow five miles lower than experienced in years past.
"We're gearing up and we'll give it all the resources we can afford to get it open by the traditional Memorial Day weekend," said WYDOT District 1 engineer, Jay Gould.

He added, however, that the news is not good if the snow melts quickly. Areas in lower elevations that experience significant flooding will require WYDOT equipment and crews to pull from the range and dispatch to protect life and property. This will take precedence over opening the roadway.

Gould says that an immediate area of concern is the town of Baggs. Town officials last week requested assistance in bolstering their dike system. Runoff forecasts are high for the Little Snake River and WYDOT manpower from Rawlins will be helping the local crew and volunteers in adding height to the levee. WYDOT trucks are hauling sand to the state penitentiary for inmates to fill.

Last year, flooding occurred in the Medicine Bow and Laramie areas from less snow pack than exists now. Gould says that temporary traffic control will be implemented as needed down in Baggs and all other areas until flooding impact is abated. He says that close attention is being paid to the bridge over the Laramie River adjacent to Bosler.

Motorists in south-central Wyoming are strongly encouraged to check road conditions before traveling this spring. Traditionally, the highest water is seen in the first couple weeks of June although with the very steep snow pack levels in the high country this year, road surface impacts may occur earlier and last longer.

The clearing of WYO 70 over Battle Pass between Baggs and Encampment will begin after WYO 130 is opened.