Ferocious February flurries making up for slow start to winter

JACKSON HOLE, WYO – So how about February so far? Weather-wise, the shortest month is typically the driest mountain as far as snowfall in western Wyoming but someone should maybe tell that to the groundhog.

It’s getting belly-deep on a bull elk around here. Expect to see more wildlife driven down to the valley floor by deeper snow in the mountains. (Buck)

February has been a snowy one to start, dumping a record two feet in two days on town streets. We got a bit more this past weekend with plenty of winds in a winter storm so significant it was actually named (like a hurricane) by meteorologists.

Winter storm Maya skirted Jackson Hole, delivering sustained winds that made the 2-3 inches yesterday seem like a lot more. Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is posting a new foot of snow in the past 24 hours. Grand Targhee Resort picked up 8 inches of freshy in the past 24 hours.

Exit Maya, hello wintry week. Another Winter Weather Advisory is in effect for today and tonight. Occasional snow showers will add 1-3 inches by nightfall and another 1-3 possible overnight. Again, high winds will be of added concern all week, blowing the snow around and limiting visibility.

Snow plows can’t get to everything immediately. When the forecast calls for a big storm, alter your schedule if you can and make smart travel plans. (Buck)

And watch Wednesday. Computer models differ on how much we might be getting but trusted weather forecasters from MountainWeather to Weather Underground to Weather Channel and National Weather Service agree: We are probably getting walloped on Wednesday. From late Tuesday night into Thursday morning, expect wind-driven snow dumping anywhere from 6-12 inches or more depending on elevation.

It looks like a brief break over the weekend (don’t expect to see the sun, though) with more snowy days on the way next week, according to most longrange  10-day forecasts.

What snows bring

Slide on No Name recently partially buried on skier who was reportedly not injured. (Bridger-Teton Avalanche Center)

Get ready. Be prepared. Driving is the first thing many of us think of when weather hits in the winter…and with good reason. Increase following distances, anticipate additional breaking and stopping distances, and stay up to date on road conditions. And make sure you have a winter emergency kit in your vehicle.

Wildlife—including moose, elk, and deer—are being driven down to lower elevations and to the valley floor with deeper snows in the mountains. You can expect to encounter more wildlife on the road and in your yard as the winter progresses now.

Keep important things like propane tanks and fire hydrants clear from snow. Also, it’s a good idea to make sure your address is still visible for first responders and deliveries. (Buck)

Avalanche activity also picks up during and after heavy snows. Know before you go and try not to go alone. Your friends may save your life.

Bridger-Teton Avalanche Center recorded two avalanches in the past few days involving skiers though neither was injured. No Name Canyon slid Saturday afternoon, partially burying one skier. Taylor Mountain also had an avalanche on the east face, north end last Thursday afternoon. One skier was reported to be caught and carried though not buried or injured.

Finally, homeowners might want to make sure their propane tanks and meters are shoveled clear as well as any nearby fire hydrants. In town, some property-owners ‘adopt’ a hydrant, taking it upon themselves to make sure the fire department is able to access it (or even find it) after a big snowstorm.

On that note, make sure your address hasn’t been covered by snow. Keep it clear and visible for emergency vehicles and for that UPS driver who may be trying to find you.

Some people aren’t bothered at all by winter snow. The Walker family in Alpine enjoyed a little outdoor snow pit bonfire the other night. (Courtesy)

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