Christmas has come and gone without much ado. We had snow and wind so the company we had hoped for used her head and stayed put in Denver. The many roads (6 highways) in and out of Laramie are notoriously treacherous when we have foul weather. I 80 runs east and west from here. The west bound lanes are the ones most often closed. The engineers who built the highway used expediency rather than good sense when plotting its route. Old highway 30 used to run several miles north of the northern most tip of the Snowy Range. This enabled the horrible blizzards that are generated out there to blow themselves out on the prairie a bit before reaching the road. In order to save a few miles on the route the interstate was built right up against the mountains. Now the frequent snows and howling winds make that part of the road impassable on a regular basis. Some argue that WYDOT should use more sense than the engineers and close the road more quickly when there are white outs or the winds are so strong they are blowing the big trucks over or off the road. There have been many wrecks on that stretch.
The eastbound intertstate has it’s own set of problems. When you drive east from Laramie (7220 ft), you immediately begin to climb up to what is known as The Summit. Rising to an altitude of 8624 feet the Summit is the highest point on the whole east/west route of I80 and home of some really awful weather. What I haven’t mentioned is that I80 is the main east/west truck route. There are many more trucks on this route than on any of the other routes. Some of the drivers of these rigs do not use good judgement when driving up to or down from The Summit. As a result, the stretch of road from the top to where the road levels out as it enters Laramie Valley accounts for the most wrecks in the state. WYDOT has made efforts, lighted and unligted signs, reducing the speed limit, etc., but many ignore the warnings and crash. If you make it up to The Summit and continue east the road runs along an open stretch were you can see the Front Range, the Medicine Bow Mountains and the Snowy Range just by swivling your head. The winds up there are fierce. The wind at Buford has been clocked at over 100 mph. Winds approaching 60mph are not unusual. When these winds pick up the light, dry snow and blow it around, the road disappears in white river of snow. It is very scary to try to drive on a road you cannot see.
The third major Laramie route goes south from here. The stretch ofUS Highway 287 from Laramie to Ft. Collins, CO is one of the countries most beautiful highways in the west. It is also deadly when the weather is bad. Miles of windswept roads turn to sheets of ice when the sun, wind and snow mix. Even so, I prefer this route when I have to go to Colorado because there is little truck traffic.
The other routes out of town are mostly for local traffic and people trying to reach the mountains to hunt,ski or snowmobile. Most are hardy types and used to driving in horrible condiitons.
We hope for snow because a good snowpack provides us with adequate water during the summer months. The price we pay is having to stay put or very scary driving conditions.