JACKSON, Wyo. – The Rendezvous Bowl Plot at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort’s upper mountain broke its all-time 48-hour snowfall record with 41 inches received from January 26-28. This impressive storm cycle was followed by some of the coldest air in years with temperatures plummeting to -30ºF or lower in the Jackson Hole Valley.
Record-breaking snow event for Jackson Hole Mountain Resort
A powerful storm cycle impacted the Tetons from Thursday, January 26 through Saturday, January 28 with one of the deepest snowfall totals ever recorded on the east side of the Tetons for such a short time period.
The Rendezvous Bowl Plot, located at 9,580 feet at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, received 41 inches of snow in 48 hours from 5 a.m. Thursday through 5 a.m. Saturday. This is the deepest 48-hour snow total ever recorded at this location dating back to the winter of 1974-1975, breaking the old record of 37 inches set in 2012 and 2019.
Additional snowfall on Saturday bumped up the storm total snowfall to 46 inches over three days at the Rendezvous Bowl Plot.
Snow totals of approximately three to four feet were common throughout the Tetons above 8,000 feet. Grand Targhee reported a three-day storm total of 34 inches at its Chief Joseph Bowl Plot, about halfway up the mountain. While impressive, this was not record-setting.
Snowfall totals were also impressive in the Wilson to Teton Village corridor along the West Bank and noticeably lighter around the Town of Jackson.
Here are the storm snowfall totals from Thursday AM (January 26) through Sunday AM (January 29):
- 46″ – Jackson Hole Rendezvous Bowl
- 45″ – Surprise Lake (GTNP)
- 43″ – Jackson Hole Raymer Plot
- 36″ – Jackson Hole Mid-Mountain
- 34″ – Grand Targhee
- 21″ – Victor Outskirts (base of Pine Creek Pass)
- 19″ – Teton Village
- 18″ – Wilson
- 16″ – Jackson Hole Base
- 15″ – Togwotee Pass
- 14″ – Snow King
- 12″ – Jackson Lake/Moran
- 7″ – Town of Jackson
The deep snow totals that occurred in a relatively short period of time led to a significant spike in avalanche activity in the days to follow, including a large slide on Taylor Mountain.
Prior to last week’s major snow event, snowpack was right at 100% of average at the two Snotel station located in the Tetons (Phillips Bench and Grand Targhee) and 104% of average across the Upper Snake River Basin as a whole, which includes the Snake River and Gros Ventre Range.
A few days of dry weather after this storm have led to significant settling of the recent snow, and snowpack is now 106-108% of average in the Tetons and 106% of average in the Upper Snake River Basin as a whole.
Snowpack is near to above average statewide across Wyoming, with the greatest anomalies over the southern half of the state.
For the Western U.S. as a whole, snowpack remains deepest relative to average across California, Utah, and Arizona, while Western Colorado and Southern Idaho are also doing very well. Snowpack is now below average across most of the Pacific Northwest, Northern Idaho, and Northern Montana.
As far as season-to-date snowfall goes, we are now over 300 inches at Jackson Hole’s Upper Mountain as well as Grand Targhee, which is above average for the end of January/beginning of February.
Coldest air in years arrives behind last week’s storm
As if a record-setting snow event wasn’t enough, an arctic cold front arrived at the tail-end of the storm on Sunday, ushering in bitterly cold temperatures on Monday and Tuesday. Many areas experienced their coldest temperatures in at least six years, and some in over a decade.
The Town of Jackson recorded a low of -31ºF just after midnight on Tuesday morning. This is the first time since January 2017 that Jackson has recorded a low of -30ºF or lower, and is only the second winter in which a low of -30ºF or below was recorded since 2000.
Temperatures of -30ºF have become quite rare in recent years, but that hasn’t always been the case. From 1970-1999, Jackson recorded a low of -30ºF or below in 16 of these years. In other words, -30ºF temperatures used to occur about every other year on average.
The Moran weather station located next to Jackson Lake also recorded lows of -32ºF on both Monday and Tuesday mornings. These were the first -30ºF readings at this location since February 2011 when the temperature dipped to -37ºF.
The fact that the Moran/Jackson Lake weather station went more than a decade without a -30ºF reading is noteworthy. From 2000-2011, this location hit -30ºF on eight out of 12 years, and from 1970-1999, this location hit -30ºF on 20 out of 30 years.
Perhaps more impressive than the low temperatures were the frigid high temperatures on Monday afternoon. Jackson only recorded a high temperature of -6ºF which is the coldest high temperature in town since December 1990.
The high temperature at Moran/Jackson Lake did make it above zero on Monday and Tuesday, just barely.
The Jackson Hole Airport only has weather data going back to 2009, so take this with a grain of salt, but the low of -29 recorded on Tuesday morning was the coldest on record at this location.
Above the valley floor, temperatures were also very cold on Monday and Tuesday, but not quite as cold due to a temperature inversion. Check out this map below from Tuesday morning, which shows a temperature reading of -30ºF in Jackson and temperatures in the minus teens above the valley floor.
Brief January Summary
January ended up colder than average and snowier than average overall. The month started out with mild temperatures and consistent light to moderate snowfall.
The second half of the month was much colder and also drier overall, with the one notable exception being the huge storm cycle from January 26-29 that pushed us above our January snowfall average in the Tetons.
Snowfall in the Jackson Hole Valley ended up being right around average and liquid-equivalent precipitation was actually below average.
Overall, temperatures ended up 2.4 degrees below average in Jackson but only 0.1 degree below average in Moran.
Warm-up ahead along with snow chances this weekend and next week
We are already seeing a gradual warm-up taking place on Wednesday with afternoon highs in the teens at all elevations. Further warming is expected on Thursday across the higher elevations with highs in the 20s at 9,000 feet, while an inversion will keep highs in the teens in the valley.
The inversion will likely erode on Friday afternoon as a weak storm system approaches with highs warming up into the 30s in the valley.
Light snow showers can be expected on Friday night and Saturday morning as a weak disturbance moves through. A somewhat stronger storm will then arrive on Sunday-Monday with several inches or more new snow possible in the Tetons along with light accumulations in the valleys.
Temperatures will remain on the milder side through the weekend with highs in the low 30s in the valley. This will feel balmy compared to recent days!
Heading into the middle part of next week, additional rounds of snow will be possible during the Tuesday (Feb 7) to Thursday (Feb 9) timeframe, though early signs are that the pattern will favor light to moderate snow rather than heavy snow.
As we head into mid-February (Feb 10-15), long-range models are hinting at a split-flow pattern developing in which storms weaken and split apart upon reaching the West Coast with most of the remaining moisture and energy passing south of our area. This could always change, though, as we are still 10+ days away.
Alan Smith, Meteorologist