The front wall of the Sears store in Jackson tilts inward after the roof of the building collapsed Monday in what is becoming an epic winter for the Jackson Hole valley. Among other things, a storm collapsed towering power poles to Teton Village, closing the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort for what may be several days, if not a week. (Angus M. Thuermer Jr/WyoFile)

It’s been a big winter in many parts of Wyoming, with the snowpack in places approaching almost double the normal water content for this time of the year.

Heavy snows in Jackson Hole collapsed the roof of the Sears store on Monday. Nobody was injured but the incident shot the wage of roof shovelers up to $50 an hour, according to one contractor who spoke to WyoFile. A wind storm Tuesday knocked down more than a dozen towering steel power poles leading to Teton Village, closing the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. Power may be out for five to seven days.

The Teton County Commission declared a state of emergency through Monday, Feb. 13, for Teton Village and the surrounding areas affected by the loss of electricity.

“This is official recognition by the county commissioners of all the problems our community is dealing with,” Teton County Emergency Management Coordinator Rich Ochs said in a county statement issued Thursday. “The declaration allows commissioners to potentially modify county policies if necessary. … It could help with insurance claims.

“And it just gives the responders and utility crews the time and space they need to get this fixed.”

A “no unncessary travel” restriction was placed on State Route 390 to Teton Village to allow utility crews to work safely, the release said. No evacuation order has been made, though many hotels in the area have closed and some residents were looking for other places to stay that have power.

Several roads into and out of Jackson Hole were closed during parts of a week of storms, making it easier to get to the valley on a jet from Dallas than by truck from Dubois.

The Natural Resource Conservation Service map of snowpack across Wyoming shows how the heavy winter is affecting various parts of the state. (NRCS)

Wildlife is being stressed in parts of the state, Wyoming Game and Fish said, and town residents are being asked to give mule deer, elk, and moose some extra room.

Early in the week, the Natural Resource Conservation Service listed the snow-water equivalent at 194 percent of normal in the Sweetwater River drainage, the highest in the state. West and east flanks of the Wind River Range were 170 and 163 percent respectively, followed by the Bear River drainage at 167 percent.

Angus M. Thuermer Jr.

Angus M. Thuermer Jr. is the natural resources reporter for WyoFile. He is a veteran Wyoming reporter and editor with more than 35 years experience in Wyoming. Contact him at angus@wyofile.com or (307)...

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