JACKSON, Wyo. – The pattern is drying out across Western Wyoming this week as a storm passes south of the area and a ridge of high pressure builds over the West Coast. Colder air has also arrived from the north. However, we will see light snow chances return this weekend and early next week.

Teton snowpack remains healthy following two storm cycles last week

The first half of January has featured mild temperatures and consistent snowfall with impressive totals adding up over time.

Last week, we saw a three-day storm cycle from Monday, January 9 through Wednesday, January 11 that produced 15-19 inches of snow in the Tetons above 8,000 feet and 6-12 inches in the Jackson Hole Valley.

Following a brief lull, a weaker storm cycle brought more snow to the area from Friday night, January 13 through Monday morning, January 16. Snow totals during this three-day period ranged from 6-14 inches in the Tetons with Targhee receiving the deepest totals. The Jackson Hole Valley received 2-3 inches of snow during this cycle.

Season-to-date snow totals now include 293 inches at the Rendezvous Bowl Plot and 58 inches in the Town of Jackson.

Snowpack in the Snake River Basin (based on the amount of water contained within the snowpack) which includes the Teton Range, Snake River Range and Gros Ventre Range is 113% of average as of January 13.

Generally speaking, snowpack is above average across the western, southern and central ranges of Wyoming and near average across the Northern Absaroka, Beartooth and Bighorn Ranges in North Central Wyoming.

Settled snow depths as of January 18 range from 78-82 inches above 9,000 feet, 62 inches at 8,000 feet and 18-31 inches in the Jackson Hole Valley. The snow depth at Togwotee Pass ranges from 39-49 inches.

For the Western U.S. as a whole, snowpack is well-above average across California, Utah, and Western Colorado with ski resorts in the Sierra and Wasatch enjoying their deepest start to the season in years.

The Tetons have been on the northern fringe of the favored storm track, while further north, snowpack is near average across the Cascades as well as Idaho and Montana.

Dry pattern takes hold this week

Following Sunday’s snow event, a much drier pattern set up across Western Wyoming compared to the past several weeks.

A storm missed us to the south on Monday and Tuesday, and another once-promising-looking storm on Wednesday and Thursday is also tracking too far south, though we are seeing a few flurries on the northern edge.

The dry spell will continue through Friday, then the pattern will turn somewhat more active.

Cold air returns after nearly four weeks of mild temperatures

A mild Pacific flow persisted across through this past weekend. In fact, the high temperature rose above freezing in Jackson on six out of eight days between January 7 and January 14, including a balmy high of 41ºF on Saturday, January 14.

Colder air has gradually filtered back into the area from the north since Sunday with Jackson dipping to -12ºF on Wednesday morning – the first subzero morning since December 24. The high in Jackson only briefly hit 18ºF on Wednesday afternoon, which is also the coldest high temperature since December 24.

Despite the long absence, it looks like the cold air is here to stay through the end of January. A ridge of high pressure building along the West Coast will result in a persistent north/northwest flow that will transport and reinforce cold air from Canada into the Western U.S.

Light snow chances return this weekend and early next week

While the second half of January is looking much drier than the first half, that doesn’t mean we will be snow-free. In fact, a few weak and moisture-starved disturbances are expected to slide in from the northwest during a five-day period from Saturday, January 21 through Wednesday, January 25.

The first storm is expected on Saturday night and Sunday, followed by potentially one or two more storms in the Monday to Wednesday timeframe next week. These storms should be on the weaker side, though Targhee can do well with west/northwest winds, so an “upside surprise” couldn’t be ruled out at some point.

Extended Outlook

The second half of next week (January 26-29) may be a bit drier compared to the first half of the week. However, light snow chances couldn’t be ruled out this far in advance as another weak storm could potentially sneak in from the northwest at some point.

Heading into the final few days of January and the first few days of February, high pressure along the West Coast is projected to retreat well out to sea, which could potentially open the door back up to stronger and more frequent storms as we head into early February.

Alan Smith, Meteorologist

Buckrail Meteorologist Alan Smith

Alan is a professional meteorologist who holds a degree from MSU Denver and writes weather forecasts for Buckrail. He has lived in Jackson full-time since 2015. He is currently a Meteorologist and Operations Manager for OpenSnow, which is a weather forecasting service for skiing and outdoor adventures. At OpenSnow, Alan writes forecasts for the Tetons, Pacific Northwest, British Columbia, and North America as a whole.