National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce


Wyoming Winter Weather Awareness Day

Home, Work, and Outdoor Safety

Snow piles up in Cody. Image courtesy of Barb Emmert.
  A common view in homes across Wyoming. This picture was taken in Cody by Barb Emmert.

Overview Terminology Home/Outdoor Safety Driving Safety Road Conditions Weather Sources Social Media


When a Winter Storm Strikes At Home, Work, or on the Ranch.

Stay Inside: When using alternate heat from a fireplace, wood stove, space heater (see portable electric safety tips below if plan on using), etc., use fire safeguards and properly ventilate.
If you have no heat:Close off unneeded rooms, stuff towels or rags in cracks under doors, cover windows at night, wear layers of loose fitting clothing, be sure to eat and continue to replenish the body with fluids to prevent dehydration.

AVOID OVEREXERTION, such as shoveling heavy snow, pushing a car or walking in deep snow. The strain from the cold and the hard labor may cause a heart attack. Sweating could lead to a chill and hypothermia.

Animal Safety

Move animals to sheltered areas:Shelter belts, properly laid out and oriented, are better protection for cattle than confining shelters, such as sheds.
Haul extra feed to nearby livestock feeding areas BEFORE the winter storm starts.                                         Most animals die from dehydration in winter storms: Have water available.
 Make sure pets have plenty of food, water and shelter.

See info graphics below for more cold weather safety tips for you pets and animals.


Winter Pet Safety Winter Safety for Large Animals.


During Winter Storms Have an Emergency Preparedness Kit Available At Your Home or Workplace:

Flashlight with extra batteries
Battery powered NOAA All-Hazards Weather Radio
Extra food and water
Extra medicine and baby items
First-aid supplies
Heating fuel
Emergency heat source | Portable Electric Heater Safety Tips
Fire extinguisher, smoke alarm


 Wyoming winter weather offers many recreational opportunities across the state. Whether skiing, snowmobiling, or ice fishing certain safety tips should be kept in mind for a successful outing.


 Although avalanche conditions are somewhat predictable, it is up to those out in the back country to control their own risk by keeping in mind a few safety tips.

KNOW THE TERRAIN: Avalanches commonly occur in steep terrain with 30 to 50 degrees of slope. They can also occur in areas that are exposed to steeper terrain above. Wind can also cause avalanches by depositing additional snow on the leeward slopes.

LOOK FOR THE SIGNS: Mother nature can give avalanche signs such as cracking or collapsing snow-pack, hollow drum-like sounds on hard snow, or by showing signs of a recent avalanche may indicate others are possible. Weather wise, significant snowfall or rain can trigger avalanches on the clear days after a precipitation event. In addition warm temperatures can cause snow to become less stable, and create an avalanche.

SAFE TRAVEL: Never travel alone while in the back country. Allow only one person at a time cross avalanche prone terrain while others wait in a safe location. Be alert for changing snow and weather conditions. Carry avalanche safety and rescue gear, and make sure everyone in the group knows how to use it.   

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: The Bridger Teton Avalanche Center issues daily avalanche forecasts, advisories, watches, and warnings for the mountains of western Wyoming where most avalanches occur in the state. These products are issued from around Thanksgiving weekend through at least the end of April, depending on snow conditions.

The graphs below show Wyoming avalanche fatalities by activity, area, and month. While looking at these graphs note that any activity, in any avalanche prone area, could result in a dangerous situation. For even more information see the links below.



For those participating in activities on the many frozen lakes and reservoirs of Wyoming, keep this tip in mind: There is no such thing as 100 percent safe ice!

Other safety items to consider:

  • Newly formed ice will be stronger than old ice, and rarely does ice freeze uniformly.
  • Snow on lakes will cause an insulating effect, and slow down new ice formation.
  • Ice formed over areas with currents, such as rivers, streams, bridges, and near dams, is often dangerous and should be avoided.
  • Watch for pressure ridges. These are areas of open water or thin ice where the ice has cracked and heaved due to expansion from freezing.
  • If a situation looks unsafe, its best to stay off the ice.

  The table below shows recommended minimum ice thickness for certain activities on frozen lakes, but remember ice is never 100 percent safe.

Activity Recommended Minimum Ice Thickness
STAY OFF 2 inches or Less
Ice Fishing (on foot no vehicles) 4 inches
Snowmobile or ATV 5 to 8 inches
Car or Small Pickup 12 inches
Medium Truck 15 inches or greater

Additional Information

Some of the pages listed below are in a PDF format. To view these files Download Adobe Reader

Winter Safety: National Website | WY Winter Safety Brochure | Winter Storms: Deceptive Killers | Winter Safety Info (Red Cross) | Portable Electric Heater Safety Tips | Avalanche Safety | Wyoming Avalanche Stats | Wyoming Avalanche Forecasts: Bridger Teton Avalanche Center | Wyoming Snowmobile Safety Tips