Wyoming isn’t typically renowned for grand, photogenic twisters. With just an average of twelve per year, most, if not all, are small, weak, short-lived, and unremarkable. It is easy to see why folks don’t recognize the state as tornado country. However, in 2018, Wyoming would experience a year unlike any before. In contrast, traditional states such as Oklahoma would experience an unusual lull in activity. Wyoming became a major hotspot, with over twenty twisters documented and three reaching EF3 intensity. But on June 6, 2018, an incredible storm drew international attention and created a spectacle for residents and storm chasers in and around Laramie and beyond.
On July 21, 1987, an F4 tornado tracked 24 miles across the Teton Wilderness into Yellowstone National Park. Over 1,000,000 trees were knocked down as the tornado slashed its way across mountain tops up to 10,000 feet high, and through valleys. This is the highest altitude in the US that a violent tornado (F4/F5) has ever occurred.
It is considered the most destructive tornado in Wyoming’s history. An F3 crossed through the northern parts of the Cheyenne housing and airport areas. Thomas Grazulis in Significant Tornadoes states this could have been a “minimal F4” tornado. And the NWS in Cheyenne originally believed that was an appropriate rating. Explore the history!