News of Riverton, Lander and Fremont County, Wyoming, from the Ranger's award winning journalists.
The way it was: Wild weather -- 1997
Jun 2, 2014 - Staff
All eyes are on the Wind River and tributaries this weekend as fast-melting snowpack raises flood risk to the critical point. Flooding was a problem in early June of 1997 as well, but with a different cause.
A wild period of late spring weather over the course of about 72 hours brought a tornado and a ferocious thunderstorm which caused flash flooding and lightning strikes from Hudson to Missouri Valley.
The tornado was an F1 storm 1,000 feet tall and about 100 feet wide. It ripped along the ground about six miles south of Riverton for 10-15 minutes in the late afternoon of June 6. The twister landed in open country, and no damage to man-made structures occurred. Another funnel cloud was sighted near Kinnear, but it swirled above ground level and never touched the ground.
Later that weekend, the powerful thunderstorm dropped about 1.5 inches of rain in less than an hour in some places, accompanied by repeated lightning strikes between Hudson and Riverton. Water quickly came over Wyoming Highway 789, and the Fremont County Sheriff's Office closed on lane of traffic and directed motorists slowly through the lane that remained open.
The river and streams overflowed in many places, with basements and ground floors of dozens of houses inundated with 4-12 inches of water.