Cold snap on the way later this week with snow and winter-like temperatures

JACKSON, Wyo. — Get ready for the first real taste of winter later this week. The initial cool-down will occur on Thursday as a strong cold front arrives. Then, a more significant storm will be possible this weekend with snow and winter-like temperatures even in the valley. Keep reading for more details…

Prolonged stretch of cloudy and windy weather continues early this week

Anyone who’s been in Jackson for the past week has probably noticed that we’ve been experiencing an unusually persistent stretch of windy weather.

Since last Monday, winds gusting to higher than 30 mph have been the norm rather than the exception. In fact, the Jackson Hole Airport recorded a gust as high as 54 mph last Tuesday (October 13). The reason for the winds has been the location of the jet stream — in proximity but just north of Jackson Hole, and stuck in the same position for the past week. This pattern will continue through mid-week before changes occur Wednesday night and Thursday.

The strongest storms and heaviest precipitation typically occur just north of the position of the jet stream, and that has been true in this case. While we have seen persistent cloud cover and showery weather recently, the heavier and more consistent precipitation (and also colder air) has remained north of Jackson Hole.

Check out the map below, which shows precipitation over the past seven days. Washington, British Columbia, Northern Idaho and Montana have all seen heavy amounts (including significant mountain snow), while in Jackson Hole we have seen more modest totals — about half an inch in the valley and a little over an inch in the mountains.

Seven-day precipitation totals, ending at 5 a.m. on Monday, October 19. Source: pivotalweather.com

Even farther south, notice the fire-stricken areas such as California and Colorado have seen no moisture recently. In fact, the strong winds extended south into Colorado over the past week as well, but with warmer temperatures and no moisture, extreme fire behavior occurred in the Front Range mountains and foothills.

First of two cold fronts arrives on Thursday morning

A weak storm will arrive on Wednesday with an uptick in showers expected mainly on Wednesday afternoon and Wednesday night. Overall, precipitation amounts will be light, but the more impressive feature will be the cold front arriving at the tail end.

A strong blast of cold air will arrive early Thursday morning and we could see a dusting of snow on the valley floor before precipitation comes to an end. During the day on Thursday, temperatures will be noticeably colder with highs struggling to get out of the 30s in the valley while overnight lows will fall into the low teens. Above 9,000, temperatures will not make it out of the teens for highs!

Departure from average temperatures on Thursday afternoon. Source: weathermodels.com

Stronger storm possible this weekend with snow and another cold blast to follow

Thursday’s cold front will bring a sharp chill to the air, but the “main event” is set to arrive this weekend. While we’re still the better part of a week away, there is growing potential that we could see a stronger storm system impact Jackson Hole and Northwest Wyoming on Saturday.

Projected storm track and position on Saturday. Source: weathermodels.com

It’s too early to speculate on specific snowfall amounts, but if the storm track lines up right for Wyoming, then heavy snow would be a possibility for the higher elevations in the Tetons. Temperatures should be cold enough with this system for snow levels to remain on the valley floor for much if not all of this event as well.

While the details of this storm will come into better focus over the coming week, winter-like weather with snow and cold temperatures should be expected this weekend. Prepare accordingly if you have outdoor or travel plans.

Finally, another cold blast is projected to arrive behind the system late this weekend. In fact, early indications are that temperatures will be even colder behind this front compared to Thursday. While we’re still nearly a week away, record-challenging low temperatures in the single digits are a possibility in Jackson if we see a night with clear skies and light winds.

Stay tuned to our daily forecasts through the upcoming week as we track the details of this pattern.

Alan Smith, Meteorologist, jacksonholeweatherforecast.com

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