JACKSON, Wyo. — In terms of weather, the year 2022 was filled with extremes on all ends of the spectrum in the Greater Teton-Yellowstone region. We experienced prolonged warm spells, cold spells, dry spells, wet spells and snowy spells along with a supercell thunderstorm and record flooding.

Brief Weather Summary for 2022

  • January to March was colder and drier than average with below-average snowpack.
  • April to June was cooler and wetter than average, with above-average snowfall in April.
  • July to October was much warmer than average with alternating periods of wet and dry conditions.
  • November to December was colder and snowier than average.

Next, let’s dive into some of the key weather highlights and stories from 2022.

Dry Winter Season from January to March

A run of six consecutive near to above-average snow seasons in the Tetons came to a screeching halt in early 2022. Following a snowy period during the second half of December 2021, the pattern shut off from January to March 2022 as persistent high pressure became the dominant pattern across the Western U.S.

Total season snowfall from October 1, 2021 to April 1, 2022 at the Rendezvous Bowl Plot at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort was only 321 inches, which is well below the long-term average of 392 inches. This was the lowest snowfall number at this location since 2015, and the second lowest since 2007.

Total snowfall at Rendezvous Bowl from January to March was only 126 inches, which is well below the average of 224 inches for this period. In fact, this was the third lowest January-March snow total on record dating back to 1974-1975. The only years with lower numbers were 2015 and 1981.

The snow depth at the Rendezvous Bowl Plot on April 1 was only 71 inches, which was the lowest for this date since 2007.

The Town of Jackson received 30.2 inches of snow total from January to March, which is below the historical average of 40.3 inches for this period, but not as dramatically far off from average compared to the Rendezvous Bowl Plot.

Despite the lack of snow, temperatures in January and February were very cold before moderating somewhat in March. Inversions are common during mid-winter dry spells, which contributed to the below-average temperatures in the valley, but the Tetons also experienced cold temperatures at times as well due to frequent northerly winds aloft.

In the Jackson Hole Valley, temperatures ranged from 4ºF to 7ºF below average in January and 5ºF to 6ºF below average in February. March started out cold but ended warm with overall temperatures for the month finishing close to average.

Cool and Wet (and Snowy) in April and May

The joke among Jackson area locals was that the snow finally arrived right after ski season ended. An active pattern featuring frequent storms and below-average temperatures arrived during April and continued through May, resulting in a late season boost in snowpack across the higher elevations.

The Rendezvous Bowl Plot received 79 inches of snow during the month of April, which was above average (59 inches) and was also the second snowiest month of the entire season behind only December 2021.

An April snowstorm blankets Teton Pass

The Town of Jackson also received an impressive 17.2 inches of snow in April, which is well above its historical average of 2.7 inches. This was also the second snowiest month of the season in town.

Thanks in part to heavy snowfall in December, but mostly due to unusually heavy snowfall in April, the Town of Jackson ended up with 76.3 inches of snow for the season (from October to May) which is right around average. This is in spite of the Tetons experiencing well below average snowfall.

Liquid-equivalent precipitation was above average in April in May as Jackson received 4.14 inches of precipitation during this two-month period and Moran received 5.73 inches.

Temperatures were 4ºF to 6ºF below average in April and 2ºF to 4ºF below average in May. The cooler spring temperatures resulted in delayed snowmelt over the higher elevations even though winter snowpack was below average.

Supercell Thunderstorm on June 12 Produces Wind and Hail Damage

The rowdy spring weather pattern continued into June as a relatively rare supercell thunderstorm impacted Jackson Hole on Sunday, June 12. The storm exhibited rotation as it moved over Teton Pass, where it produced one-inch diameter hail that caused damage to vehicles over the pass and in Teton Village.

The storm also knocked over a tree in the town of Jackson before producing widespread wind damage near Crystal Creek Campground and in the Gros Ventre Range. In fact, recent evidence indicates this storm likely produced a tornado in this area (more on this in a future article).

Looking west from Highway 22 as a supercell thunderstorm moved over Teton Pass and into the Jackson Hole Valley. Photo: Alan Smith

Radar image at 4:13 p.m. on Sunday, June 12.

Historic Yellowstone Flood on June 12

As it turns, out two significant weather events occurred on the same day on June 12. While the supercell thunderstorm near Jackson was more localized, the historic Yellowstone flood had far-reaching impacts.

A subtropical plume of moisture set up across Yellowstone, resulting in prolonged heavy rain, while mild temperatures resulted in rain (rather than snow) falling all the way up to the summits of the surrounding mountain peaks.

The recipe was ripe for a major flood since mountain snowpack was well-above average for June (thanks to a cold/snowy spring). Snowmelt due to a warm up just before and during the rain event added more water to the already significant rainfall amounts to produce a widespread damaging flood across Yellowstone.

Flooding took out portions of the north entrance road, south of Gardiner, MT. Photo by NPS / Doug Kraus

An Active Monsoon Season

The North American Monsoon is a summer circulation that can lead to daily cycles of thunderstorms across the Southwest U.S. and Southern Rockies, along with occasional heavy rain and flash flooding.

During typical summers, the Tetons are at the northern fringe of this circulation with periodic upticks in thunderstorm activity and rainfall, but to a lesser extent compared to areas further south.

However, the 2022 monsoon was one of the stronger ones in recent years and had a significant impact on our late summer weather. July was actually very dry as the monsoon was just getting going (and also strengthening) across the Southwest U.S.

However, by early August the monsoon circulation had become potent with higher levels of water vapor in the atmosphere than normal, and it also progressed northward into Idaho and Wyoming. As a result, we experienced frequent (often daily) thunderstorms across the Tetons throughout the month along with heavy rainfall.

The Town of Jackson received 3.65 inches of rain during the month of August, which is nearly triple the historical August average of 1.23 inches. It was also the second wettest August on record in the Town of Jackson, and the wettest since 1945.

So while the winter season was dry, abundant rainfall in both the spring and the summer contributed to a quiet fire season in Western Wyoming.

Rainfall was well above average across Teton County much of the West during August 2022, which contributed to a quieter fire and smoke season compared to prior summers.

Record Heatwave in Early September

Despite an active monsoon, the summer of 2022 was quite hot in Teton County with consistent above average temperatures. However, the most significant heatwave of the summer occurred unusually late in the year during early September.

The Town of Jackson hit 90 degrees on five consecutive days from September 4-8. This would be a rare occurrence at any time of year, but is unheard of in September.

Daily records were broken across Teton County during this heatwave, while numerous areas outside of Teton County in Western and Central Wyoming broke their all-time records for the month of September. The Alta weather station in Teton County also tied its all-time record high for September.

A Very Warm Four-Month Period from July to October

While the first half of 2022 was colder than average in Teton County, the four month-period from July to October was much warmer than average.

In fact, this specific four-month period was the warmest on record for much of the Northwest U.S. and may have been one of if not the warmest July-October period on record in Teton County as well (quite a bit of data digging will be needed to determine this).

Fortunately, we received enough rainfall during this period to result in a quiet fire season.

Temperatures were consistently above average during all four months, but the highest temperature anomalies occurred during August and September.

The silver lining to this pattern for outdoor enthusiasts was that warm, sunny weather continued much later into the year than usual with 70-degree temperatures occurring in the Jackson Hole Valley as late as October 19. It wasn’t until the final week of October when an abrupt flip to a much colder and wetter/snowier pattern ensued.

A Cold and Snowy November-December and a Great Start to Ski Season

The transition from warm fall weather to full-on winter conditions happened fast this year! By the first week of November, snow was here to stay on the valley floor and the winter is off to a big start as we head into 2023.

The Rendezvous Bowl Plot at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort received 85 inches of snow in November and 125 inches in December, both of which are well above average. Counting October’s snowfall, the Rendezvous Bowl Plot had received a season total of 239 inches of snow by December 31, making it the snowiest start to a winter since 2016-2017 (which turned out to be a huge winter, by the way).

The Town of Jackson had also received a season-to-date total of 47.4 inches of snow as of December 31, which is also above average (note: some estimates had to be used in late October due to missing data).

November also ended up being one of the coldest on record in Teton County with temperatures more reminiscent of mid-winter. The unseasonably cold temperatures contributed to the early build-up of snowpack on the valley floor.

December started out cold as well but a warm-up did occur late in the month after about six to seven weeks of sustained below average temperatures. Temperatures during the month of November were 6ºF to 9ºF below average in the Jackson Hole Valley, while in December, temperatures were 0.5ºF to 1.5ºF below average.

Heavy early season snow and below-average temperatures resulted in outstanding early season skiing conditions in December.

January 2023 Preview

January is starting out relatively active. The jet stream is currently located well to our south, favoring big storms in California, Utah and Colorado. However, we are seeing moisture arrive on a frequent basis on the northern fringe in the Tetons. This is resulting in consistent snowfall and good skiing conditions.

A similar pattern is expected to continue heading into the second week of January with frequent light to moderate snow events. The strong westerly flow into the Western U.S. will result in near to warmer than average temperatures, much in contrast to November and the first three weeks of December.

As we head into the second half of January, it looks like an active pattern will continue and we may also see a trend toward stronger storms based on longer range model projections. At the very least, there are not any prolonged dry spells on the horizon over the next couple of weeks.

There are also not any extreme cold snaps anticipated over the next couple of weeks as a mild westerly flow continues across the Western U.S. with arctic air staying bottled up well to the north.

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.