Jackson Hole Daily Snow

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By Alan Smith, Meteorologist Posted 1 month ago February 26, 2024

Strong Winds and Short-Duration Heavy Snow on Monday


A strong cold front approaching will result in high winds throughout Monday with gusts to 55-65 mph up high. Lift holds are very possible. Heavy snow arrives Monday PM with snow starting dense and the last little bit ending drier. Travel impacts likely Mon eve. Tue AM will offer the best turns with more snow showers & cold temps. A stronger & longer-duration storm will bring heavy snow Thu-Sat

Short Term Forecast

Forecast for Monday to Monday Night:

No new snow to report yet on Monday AM, though we are beginning to see some light and spotty showers develop as of this writing. Temperatures are starting out in the upper 30s to near 40 in the valleys and we're getting some light rain in Jackson.

Wind – At 9,000-10,000 feet, temperatures are in the upper teens to low 20s, but the big story is the wind. We've seen peak wind gusts of 59 mph at the top of the tram early this morning and 69 mph at the Surprise Pinnacle station in Grand Teton NP. 

Winds are going to be a factor throughout the day on Monday, and I would be prepared for lift closures at JHMR (Sublette at a minimum, and possibly more). Peak wind gusts at the top of Targhee have been in the 35-40 mph range so far, so we'll see what happens with lift operations there or if winds increase at all.

Wind direction will vary from west/southwest to southwest, and I'm expecting gusts at the top of the tram to remain in the 55-65 mph range. 

Winds will be strong in the valleys as well with gusts to 30-40 mph.

Snowfall – Snow will be light and spotty through the morning hours on Monday, then will become heavier and more widespread during the afternoon with snowfall rates increasing to 1-2"/hour across the higher elevations. Snow will be dense/wet during the afternoon hours due to mild temps and strong winds.

The cold front will move through sometime between 5pm and 7pm and we are likely to see a few hours of intense snowfall rates with the frontal passage along with falling temperatures and a decrease in snow density. Snow will then taper off in the wake of the front, likely ending by around 10pm (isolated flurries possible overnight).

Snow Totals – I'm lowering my forecast slightly for JHMR's upper mountain, and will go with 5-10 inches for both Targhee and JHMR above 8,000 feet as the strong dynamics and frontal lifting with this storm may limit any obvious terrain-based differences between the upper west side and upper east side (though random variation should still be expected).

For the lower elevations and valleys, above-freezing temperatures during the afternoon will limit accumulations. Once the heavier precipitation arrives, it should be all-snow in the valleys but I don't think we'll see much accumulation until the front moves through. Then, we're probably looking at a quick 1-2 inches in Jackson, with slightly higher totals above 6,500 feet.

Here is my forecast:

Here is a projection from a high-resolution weather model:

The majority of the snow that accumulates will be higher density, but the last couple of inches or so will be lower density, so this will be right-side-up at least.

Skiing Conditions – Monday is not going to be ideal due to high winds, possible lift closures, and firm/crusty snow with significant accumulations holding off until late in the day.

I would target Tuesday AM for the best conditions, but even then it could be variable. If we hit the higher end of the forecast range, that would help to bury old crusts (especially with the snow coming in denser), but if we are near the low end of the forecast range then you'll probably still be hitting the crust underneath the new snow.

Travel – The timing of the storm and the cold frontal passage will make for a rough afternoon/evening commute to/from the ski resorts, over the pass, and through the valleys due to heavy snow and strong winds which will reduce visibility and result in whiteout conditions at times. I wouldn't be surprised to see some road closures, so be prepared.

Conditions will also become icy on the valley roads from Monday evening through Tuesday morning as temperatures plummet behind the cold front.

Forecast for Tuesday:

Conditions will be much colder with morning temps starting in the single digits (mountains) to teens (valleys), while afternoon temps will remain in the single digits at 9,000 feet and rise into the low 20s in the valleys.

We will have some lingering moisture as a trailing disturbance moves through during the daytime hours, resulting in snow showers re-developing.

There will be a convective element to these snow showers due to very cold air aloft, and this will lead to fairly widespread hit-or-miss type snow showers with accumulations being fairly random in nature.

Areas above 8,000 feet could pick up anywhere from 1-4 inches of new snow from Tuesday morning through Tuesday evening, and this new snow will be much lighter/drier with the cold airmass in place.

Winds will not be as strong on Tuesday compared to Monday and lift closures are less likely. However, it will still be quite breezy with westerly winds gusting to 30-40 mph up high in the afternoon. Make sure you bundle up on the slopes with these winds combined with the much colder temps.

Forecast for Wednesday:

We will see a relative lull in the pattern but skies will remain mostly cloudy with occasional flurries possible (little to no accumulation). Cloud bases may start low in the morning, but are projected to be just above ski resort summits heading into midday/afternoon.

Temperatures will start out in the single digits on Wednesday morning but will warm up into the low 20s (9,000 feet) to low 30s (valleys) on Wednesday afternoon. Despite the mostly cloudy skies, I wouldn't rule out some sun occasionally peaking through. 

Winds will remain brisk but not as strong with peak gusts of 20-30 mph up high. Wind direction will be out of the southwest to west/southwest.

Extended Forecast

Outlook for Thursday (Feb 29) to Saturday (Mar 2):

Confidence is growing that a stronger and longer-duration storm will impact our area late this week. A trough of low pressure over the Pacific Northwest will dig further south into California, placing us under a strong southwest flow with consistent jet stream support (we will be in a favorable position with the jet stream setting up just south of our area).

It's possible we could see snow begin on Thursday afternoon, but most of the action is likely to hold off until Thursday night with periods of snow likely to continue through Saturday afternoon.

Much warmer air will arrive in advance of this storm on Thursday, and once snow does start to fall, it will be on the wetter/denser side. However, that isn't all bad as denser snow will help to cover up old crusts more easily.

Friday/Friday night looks like the heaviest snowfall period at this time as there are indications that an approaching cold front could stall over our area, which would act as another focal point for enhanced snowfall rates. Depending on the position of the front, we could see temps cool slightly on Friday PM but confidence is low.

Snow is likely to continue into Saturday, then the cold front will eventually pick up momentum and sweep across our area sometime during the afternoon or evening, with conditions drying out later Saturday night.

We'll get more dialed on this system moving forward, but we could end up seeing deep snow totals from this storm. It does look like a wetter/denser event than what we're accustomed to, but still should make for a fun weekend with fresh snow. 

Winds also look quite strong during this event and could impact lift operations, so that will be something to also keep an eye on.

Outlook for March 3rd and Beyond:

A colder airmass will take hold during the week of March 3rd-10th, but since my last post, models are also trending toward a more active pattern that could feature more frequent shots of snow.

We would likely see weaker storms in this pattern, but that's maybe not a bad thing as we would also have lighter winds, colder temperatures, and good-quality snow. 

In terms of the timing, frequency, and strength of individual storms, confidence is fairly low but I do feel better about our snow potential next week than I did at this time yesterday. We'll see if this trend continues moving forward.

Thanks so much for reading! Next update on Tuesday (Feb 27).

Alan Smith 


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Alan Smith


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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