Jackson Hole Daily Snow

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By Alan Smith, Meteorologist Posted 1 month ago February 23, 2024

Storm on Monday, Snow Showers in the Days to Follow

Summary

Dry weather will take hold from Friday through Sunday with increasing sunshine & mild temps. A storm remains on track for Monday with strong winds/intense snowfall rates at times, but I'm hesitant to forecast big totals due to mild temps and a relatively short duration event. The pattern has trended more unsettled after this storm with follow-up snow showers possible Tue PM to Thursday.

Short Term Forecast

Thursday's snow showers resulted in highly variable snow totals ranging from 0-3 inches across the Tetons. The Surprise Meadow station in Grand Teton Park recorded the highest value of 3 inches.

Snow shower activity turned more convective in nature, meaning that the lower atmosphere was heated up enough for moist air parcels to become buoyant, resulting in more random hit-or-miss snow showers that tracked across the Tetons after developing along the western slopes, rather than merely setting up over the west side and crest of the range. 

Now that the sun is getting stronger as we head into late winter and spring and low-level temperatures are trending warmer (on average), it's not unusual to see a convective element to snow showers in the absence of storm systems.

Forecast for Friday to Sunday:

Stubborn cloud cover and isolated snow shower activity from the past few days will give way to a more robust drying trend heading into the weekend with increasing sunshine expected.

Friday – We we will see some low to mid level clouds in the morning, which will give way to mostly sunny skies in the afternoon. High temps will range from the upper 20s (9,000 feet) to low 40s (valleys) with the combination of warm temps and increased sunshine heating up south-facing slopes.

Ridgetop winds above 9,000 feet will be out of the west/northwest with gusts to 20-25 mph in the afternoon.

Saturday – This looks like the "sunniest" day with bluebird skies, although we could see some valley fog in the morning. Despite being an otherwise beautiful day, winds will become strong out of the west with gusts to 35-45 mph in the afternoon.

Morning temps will start out in the upper teens, then afternoon highs will range from the low 30s (9,000 feet) to low 40s (valleys).

Sunday – Abundant sunshine early in the day will give way to some thin, high clouds in the afternoon. Ridgetop winds will be out of the west/southwest at 20-25 mph with gusts to 40-50 mph in the afternoon, so I wouldn't rule out occasional lift holds on Sublette.

Morning temps will start out milder in the low 20s, then afternoon highs will range from the low 30s (9,000 feet) to low/mid 40s (valleys).

Skiing Conditions – The snow will be variable this weekend with an early spring-like pattern in place. North-facing terrain that hasn't been heavily skied out will offer the softest snow conditions.

South-facing terrain, and also east and west-facing terrain that sees heavy sun exposure will be firm/crusty in the morning but should soften up as the day progresses and could offer some fun spring-like turns. However, strong winds across the higher elevations may limit the potential for softening with daytime heating.

Forecast for Monday to Monday Night:

A storm remains on track to impact our area. The storm will bring heavy snow to the Pacific Northwest initially before swinging eastward across the Central Rockies.

From a pure weather perspective, this will be an intense storm with strong winds and periods of heavy snowfall rates, but the duration of the event along with low snow-liquid ratios may limit our potential for truly deep totals like we saw last week.

Snow should begin on Monday morning, likely right around the time 5 am reports are issued. Snow will then pick up over the course of the day and could become quite heavy at times as a strong cold front approaches.

The timing of the cold front matters here as we usually dry out quickly behind the passage of a strong cold front. The latest model trends are indicating an earlier frontal passage, possibly by late afternoon or early evening on Monday. This would only give us about a 12-hour window of snowfall.

Also, a warm airmass will be in place as this storm arrives, which combined with strong winds will result in a denser/wetter snow event with snow-liquid ratios likely around 10:1 (maybe even lower?) or 10% density. 

So we will see some intense snowfall rates at times, especially as the cold front moves through where we would likely see a 1-2 hour burst of heavy snow before drying out afterward. However, I have questions about the overall duration of the event.

Snow Totals – I'm going with a fairly conservative/modest forecast of 4-8 inches in the Tetons (both JHMR and Targhee) as I think models are overdoing the post-frontal snowfall. Just based on past experience, we usually dry out quickly behind fronts and medium-range models don't always pick up on this well.

For the valleys, I'll go with 1-3 inches in Jackson and Driggs/Victor, and 2-4 inches for the JH Valley west of the Snake River and north of the airport. Snow King should pick up 3-5 inches.

For what it's worth, here is a projection from a blend of weather models which is going with higher totals than what I'm forecasting.

We'll see how this looks over the upcoming days, and perhaps I'll bump up my forecast if the duration of the event looks longer, or if snowfall rates look intense enough for a longer period of time (i.e. more than just a couple of hours).

Wind – When strong cold fronts approach (with significant temperature and pressure gradients), we usually get strong winds in advance of the front.

That looks to be the case throughout the day on Monday and into Monday evening, with ridgetop winds above 9,000 feet of 20-30 mph sustained with peak gusts of 50-60 mph. Higher elevation lift operations may very well be impacted.

Skiing Conditions – Monday might be a tough day due to strong winds. Also, the new snow will be accumulating on top of old crusts, which combined with wind-effect, may not be all that enjoyable to ski. I think conditions will be better in the days to follow.

Travel – Heavy snow and strong winds will make for a rough evening commute on Monday as the cold front moves through. If you're leaving the ski resorts or driving over the pass at the end of the day or into the evening, then plan on slow travel conditions with areas of blowing snow and near whiteout conditions possible in open/exposed areas. The same is true for any open/exposed valley areas.

Much colder air will arrive behind the front, so icing on the roads is likely from Monday evening through Tuesday morning.

Extended Forecast

Outlook for Tuesday (Feb 27) to Thursday (Feb 29):

Temperatures will be much colder behind this storm on Tuesday with highs only reaching the low teens at 9,000 feet and low 20s in the valleys.

We will dry out initially early on Tuesday with partial clearing in the cloud cover possible.

From Tuesday PM through Wednesday, models are trending toward a more active pattern with a couple of weak disturbances moving through that should generate snow showers. 

The details are still fuzzy, but with colder air in place we would likely see lower-density snowfall with improving conditions on top of Monday's snowfall. Winds will not be as strong compared to Monday, but could still be quite gusty at times up high.

On Thursday, we may see enough lingering moisture for additional snow showers, but I'm less confident in this later period. Also, temperatures are expected to warm up significantly on Thursday, which would result in wetter/denser snow compared to Wednesday.

At the moment, I think Wednesday will offer the best skiing conditions with fresh lower-density snow on top of Monday's snowfall, and before we see a warm-up on Thursday.

Outlook for Early March:

The next storm is likely to arrive sometime in the Friday (March 1) to Sunday (March 3) timeframe. That doesn't mean snow on all three days, just that I expect it to snow sometime in this window, with Saturday the 2nd currently looking like the most likely candidate. 

Early indications are that this storm could be somewhat similar to Monday's storm, in that warmer air in place would result in a wetter/denser snow event with a strong cold front arriving at the end with temperatures trending much colder after the storm.

Heading into the week of March 4th, confidence decreases but I'm seeing some hints that we could dry out for a few days with weak high pressure building over the Central Rockies. Temperatures are projected to be colder than average for early March, however. 

Thanks so much for reading! I'm going to take a break on Saturday with the next 3 days looking dry, then will post my next update on Sunday morning (Feb 25) with a more detailed forecast for Monday's storm. 

Alan Smith 

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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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