CHEYENNE, Wyo. — It's still summer, but a snowstorm blanketed parts of Wyoming, South Dakota, Montana and Colorado, setting early snowfall records in some places, covering lawns and flower gardens and providing a preview of what is to come.
The snowstorm dumped up to 20 inches of snow in parts of Wyoming on Wednesday and Thursday and sent overnight temperatures plummeting into the 20s in some areas.
While snow in September is rare, it isn't unusual for local residents used to wild swings in the weather.
"I don't mind it; it is what it is," said Deann Meyer of Buffalo, Wyoming, where up to 10 inches of snow fell. "It's going to be 80 next week. That's what the weather says. Of course, that could change."
Still, it was the earliest snowfall on record for parts of Wyoming and southwest South Dakota. Temperatures hovered around freezing in Denver, forcing many gardeners to wrap their plants for protection.
Hard frosts were reported in western Montana. Kalispell reported a record low of 23 degrees Friday morning while Missoula's record low was 25, compared with 28 in 1988.
Chuck Baker, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Riverton, Wyoming, said the blast of wintry weather originated in the northern reaches of Canada. "It was pretty potent for this time of year," Baker said.
The heavy, wet snow snapped off tree branches and caused power outages in Buffalo and the surrounding area.
Some roads and highways had slick spots Friday morning. Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park in Montana was closed temporarily earlier in the week, but otherwise travel was not hampered.
The National Weather Service reported 20 inches of snow falling in the Bighorn Mountains in north-central Wyoming.
Eight inches fell in Custer, South Dakota.
The 3 to 5 inches that fell in Cody, a busy summer tourist town in northwest Wyoming, is the earliest recorded snowfall there since records were kept in 1915. The previous recorded earliest snowfall in Cody was Sept. 12, 1970.
Just under an inch fell in the Rapid City, South Dakota, area, breaking the previous record set on Sept. 13, 1970, for the earliest snowfall.
Boulder, Colorado, also received snow — a year after being hit by a devastating flood from heavy rain.