Jackson Hole Daily Snow

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By Alan Smith, Meteorologist Posted 1 year ago January 20, 2023

Cold northwest flow with light snow chances through late January

Summary

Cold and dry conditions will prevail on Friday & Saturday, followed by a round of light snow on Sunday as a weakening storm approaches and a cold front moves through. Next week's pattern will feature a ridge of high pressure over the West Coast while a northwest flow over the Rockies with a little bit of moisture & energy to work with will provide opportunities for light snow.

Short Term Forecast

Forecast for Friday - Saturday:

The next two days will be dry and cold with mostly clear skies, though areas of low clouds and fog can be expected during the morning hours.

We are starting out with a temperature inversion on Friday morning with lows in the single digits below zero in the valley, teens above zero at 7,000-9,000 feet (where the inversion layer is located), and single digits above zero at 10,000 feet. 

Highs on Friday afternoon will reach the teens at all elevations with light winds.

Saturday will feature a similar setup but with a stronger inversion as lows start out well below zero in the valley. Highs on Saturday afternoon will struggle to get out of the single digits in the valley and will reach the teens once again in the mountains.

Forecast for Sunday:

A weak storm remains on track for Sunday. The storm has trended weaker and further west in recent days, but it's looking like we will see at least a quick round of snow as some moisture arrives from the west/northwest. The main round of snow will be associated with a cold front that moves through on Sunday morning.

This will primarily be a morning event with snow possibly beginning before dawn. I'm expecting a quick 1-3 inches in the Tetons, with most of this happening before noon on Sunday. Also, the Targhee side will be the most favored with west/northwest winds.

Valley accumulations will be light, ranging from a trace to a half-inch in the Jackson Hole Valley and a trace to an inch in Teton Valley.

From a skiing perspective, this will be a very light refresh on top of what has already been a dry week, but if you're looking to catch some freshies then Sunday morning will be the time to do so.

I'm not expecting major travel issues, but the burst of snow will result in winter conditions over the pass on Sunday morning.

Winds will be a bit more blustery on Sunday out of the west/northwest, eventually turning north/northeast, with speeds of 10-15 mph and gusts to 20-25 mph above 9,000 feet. High temps on Sunday will only be in the single digits at 9,000 feet (not factoring in the wind chill) and teens in the valley.

Extended Forecast

Outlook for January 23rd-31st:

We will dry out again on Monday (Jan 23), then the rest of the week will feature a northwest flow pattern with a ridge of high pressure located over the West Coast while a trough of low pressure will be located over the Central U.S.

We will be right on the edge between these two features in the Tetons with winds aloft out of the northwest. Depending on exactly where the jet stream sets up, we could see several pulses of moisture and energy arrive which could result in light snow events. Occasionally, we can get lucky with more than light snow in this pattern as well.

The devil is in the details and that's precisely where confidence is low right now. Models are notorious at struggling to get a handle on northwest flow patterns in the Rockies, and more often snowfall ends up being higher than what many models suggest.

However, a lot will hinge on how far east or west the storm track sets up. The European Model has the storm track setting up far enough west that we could see frequent shots of light to moderate snow through most of next week.

However, the American GFS Model has the storm track setting up too far east which would result in very little snow for the Tetons. The other models are somewhere in between.

Bottom line, I think we will see light snow from time to time next week and really through the end of the month, but my confidence in the timing and frequency of individual waves is very low.

Snowfall aside, the northwest flow pattern has already opened the door to cold air from Alaska and Canada to spill into the Intermountain West, and this will be reinforced over the coming days and weeks. Confidence is high that temperatures will be below average across our area through the end of January (and likely beyond).

Outlook for Early February:

Longer range models continue to be in general agreement that high pressure will shift further west away from the West Coast, allowing a trough of low pressure to become the dominant pattern across the Western U.S., which could open the door to stronger and more frequent storms that can tap into Pacific moisture more so than the northwest flow storms that have to travel significant distances over the cold/dry Canadian interior.

We're still more than 10 days away, though, meaning we are still in "wait and see" mode regarding this potential pattern change.

Thanks so much for reading! Next update on Saturday (Jan 21).

ALAN SMITH

About Our Forecaster

Alan Smith

Meteorologist

Alan Smith received a B.S. in Meteorology from Metropolitan State University of Denver and has been working in the private sector since 2013. When he’s not watching the weather from the office, Alan loves to spend time outdoors skiing, hiking, and mountain biking, and of course keeping an eye on the sky for weather changes while recreating.

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