Jackson Hole Daily Snow
By Alan Smith, Meteorologist Posted 2 months ago December 5, 2023
A warm airmass will remain in place Tue-Wed with partly cloudy skies and freezing levels reaching 10k feet. The next storm will come in two waves with periods of snow from early Thursday AM to late Friday PM. Temps will trend colder with the best skiing conditions expected Friday. Another weak/moderate storm is likely Sat night-Sunday.
Short Term Forecast
- Tuesday and Wednesday will be mild and dry with daytime freezing levels reaching the summit of JHMR and Targhee.
- The next storm will come in two waves, the first being on Thursday AM and the second on Thursday night/Friday.
- Total snowfall will range from 6-12 inches in the Tetons through Friday night (subject to change as we get closer).
- Snow quality will be wet/dense on Thursday AM, then will transition to low-density powder on Thursday night/Friday with Friday offering the best skiing conditions.
- Winds will be strong out of the SW to WSW on Thursday, and much lighter out of the W to NW on Friday.
- A relatively weak storm is likely on Saturday night-Sunday with an opportunity to catch some more freshies on Sunday.
Forecast for Tuesday to Wednesday:
Warm and dry conditions will prevail with partly cloudy skies and subpar snow conditions. High temperatures will reach the low 30s at ski resort summits, upper 30s at 8-9k feet, and mid-40s in the valleys. Pretty balmy for December!
Forecast for Wednesday Night to Friday Night:
The next storm will feature two main waves of snow.
The first wave will arrive late Wednesday night/early Thursday morning as the nose of the jet stream sets up in a favorable position just to our south. A cold front will also move through at the leading edge of this storm, with the main round of snow developing behind the front.
Most of the snow from this first wave will fall between early Thursday morning and about midday with snow totals ranging from 3-6 inches in the Tetons and 1-2 inches in the valleys. A lull in the action is expected Thursday afternoon aside from isolated flurries.
Strong winds are also expected on Wednesday night and Thursday out of the southwest initially, eventually transitioning to west/southwest by mid to late morning Thursday. High-elevation exposed areas (including the top of JHMR) will see gusts of 50-60 mph.
Even though a cold front will be moving through early Thursday, temperatures will be warm ahead of the front and snow quality is still going to be on the wet/dense side with this early round. A more significant temperature drop is expected Thursday PM behind this first wave.
The second wave will result in periods of snow showers from Thursday night through Friday afternoon, possibly persisting into early Friday evening. Snow showers during this period will be more orographically driven, favoring the higher terrain of the Tetons as the best storm dynamics will be further south.
Winds will start out blowing from the west/southwest on Thursday night, before shifting to northwest on Friday, and wind speeds will also be much lighter compared to Thursday.
Whenever we have light/moderate northwest winds and an unstable atmosphere due to cold air aloft, this can be a recipe for Targhee to overperform versus weather model projections, so this will be something to keep an eye on.
Snow on Thursday and Friday will also be much lower-density (i.e. powdery) compared to Thursday. Due to better snow quality and lighter winds, I would target Friday for the best skiing conditions.
For now, I will go with a storm total of 6-12 inches in the Tetons and 1-4 inches in the valleys through Friday night, but stay tuned for updates moving forward.
Below is a projection from a blend of weather models. From a statewide perspective, this storm will favor Northwest Wyoming including the Tetons and southern half of Yellowstone, with lighter amounts elsewhere.
Thursday morning, Thursday evening, Friday morning, Friday evening, and Saturday morning will feature the most inclement driving conditions over Teton Pass and in the valleys.
While snow-packed roads are a given, the main concerns are wind and areas of blowing snow on Thursday, and icy conditions from Thursday evening through Saturday morning as we will be transitioning from a warmer airmass to a colder airmass that will cause previously wet roads to freeze.
A break in the pattern is likely during the day on Saturday (Dec 9th), and then the next storm will arrive on Saturday night-Sunday (Dec 10th).
This storm will be arriving from the west/northwest and models are currently going pretty low in terms of projected moisture/snowfall. However, we will have colder air in place and possibly some jet stream support, so I wouldn't rule out some decent snow totals by Sunday. We'll keep an eye on this as we get closer.
Heading into the week of December 11th, it looks like we're going to head into an overall drier pattern as a ridge of high pressure builds over the Western U.S. Some models are hinting that a storm could try to sneak into our area from the northwest at some point during the 11th-15th window, but the potential for significant snowfall looks lower next week.
Thanks so much for reading! Next update on Wednesday (December 6).
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