JACKSON, Wyo. – March has been an exceptionally cold and snowy month across the Tetons and Jackson Hole. An active pattern with abundant snowfall will resume over the final few days of the month and continue into early April with significant snowfall expected across the higher elevations.
A deep March with cold temperatures
March has been exceptionally active across Northwest Wyoming, and last week was no exception. A seven-day storm cycle resulted in deep snow totals over the Tetons from March 20-27, including 64 inches at Grand Targhee and 41 inches at Jackson Hole’s Rendezvous Bowl Plot.
While moderate to heavy snow fell each day during this period, a robust northwest flow snow event favored Targhee on Friday (March 24) and Saturday (March 25) with 35 inches recorded in two days.
Check out these seven-day snow totals from March 20-27:
- 64″ – Grand Targhee Chief Joseph Bowl
- 41″ – Jackson Hole Rendezvous Bowl
- 35″ – Surprise Meadow (GTNP)
- 34″ – Jackson Hole Raymer Plot
- 26″ – Jackson Hole Mid-Mountain
- 25″ – Alta
- 18″ – Snow King
- 17″ – Togwotee Pass
- 17″ – Driggs
- 14″ – Wilson (Fall Creek Rd)
- 11″ – Jackson Hole Base
- 9″ – Jackson Lake
- 6″ – Jackson
So far, this has been the fourth snowiest March on record at the Rendezvous Bowl Plot (dating back to 1975) with 111 inches recorded. It’s possible we could move into third place as well before the month ends, but the all-time record of 154 inches set in 2011 is out of reach.
Snowfall records at Grand Targhee’s Chief Joseph Bowl only date back to 2011, but in this 13-year period, 2023 has been the snowiest March at this location.
Season-to-Date Snowfall Update
It’s been a deep winter throughout the region as the Rendezvous Bowl Plot has now surpassed 550 inches, while the Town of Jackson has surpassed 100 inches.
In terms of season-to-date snowfall through April 1, the Rendezvous Bowl Plot is now in fourth place dating back to 1975. We could potentially climb into third place or second place before the end of the month. Average snowfall at this location through April 1 is 392 inches.
Season-to-date snowfall at Jackson Hole’s mid-mountain plot is above average but not as impressive from a historical standpoint, and is only in 15th place dating back to 1975. This is still quite impressive, however.
In the Town of Jackson, there are numerous past years with missing data dating back to the early 1900s, but factoring in the years with available data, this is currently the 9th snowiest year on record for totals through April 1. Average snowfall at this location through April 1 is 72 inches.
Temperatures have also been well below average throughout the month of March. In the Town of Jackson, the month is going to end up with temperatures nearly 10ºF below average and more reminiscent of a typical February.
This has also been a very cold and long-duration winter as a whole. The Town of Jackson has not hit 50 degrees since November 2, a streak of 147 days or nearly five months. The longest streak of sub-50 degree days on record is 163 days. It may be tough to break this record, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility yet either.
Mountain snowpack remains healthy across the area and is currently 115% of average in terms of water content across the Upper Snake River Basin.
Snowpack for the state of Wyoming as a whole is above average in terms of water content in the snowpack, which is great news from a water supply and drought perspective as we head into the spring.
In terms of snow depth (the amount of snow on the ground), we are also well above average in the Tetons.
The current snow depth as of March 29 is 130 inches at the Rendezvous Bowl Plot, which would be good enough for ninth place in terms of April 1 snowpack. Average snow depth at this location for the end of March/beginning of April is 103 inches.
Snowpack in the lower Jackson Hole Valley is even more impressive for this late in the year, thanks to consistently cold temperatures. On average, the snow depth in the Town of Jackson reaches zero inches (not counting sporadic/lingering piles of snow) on March 23.
However, as of March 29, 21 inches of snow remains on the ground in Jackson, which is the second deepest total on record for this late in the year. This should be taken somewhat with a grain of salt due to missing data in previous years, but is still very impressive nonetheless.
While the deep snowpack in both the mountains and the valley is good from a water resources standpoint, it would be beneficial for us to start seeing more seasonal temperatures sooner rather than later in order to gradually melt off the lower-elevation snow.
The longer the unseasonable cold with minimal melting persists in the lower valley, the more susceptible we will be toward a significant warm-up later this spring that could lead to rapid melting, runoff and possible flooding.
Here is a look at current snow depths relative to average from west to east across the Teton Range and into the Jackson Hole Valley and Togwotee Pass. Snowpack is well above average in the Tetons and adjacent valleys, but is actually right around average at Togwotee Pass where snowfall has not been quite as impressive this winter.
Multiple storms on the way from late this week through early next week
Following a break in the pattern early this week, we will head back into a snowy pattern from Wednesday night through at least Monday as a series of storms impact the area.
Temperatures are starting out relatively mild on Wednesday but will trend colder in the days to follow with highs in the 30s each day in the valley. For perspective, the average high in Jackson at the end of March is 48ºF.
Snow showers from Wednesday through Friday will result in moderate accumulations across the higher elevations each day with light and brief accumulations in the valleys. Travel conditions will be most impactful over Teton and Togwotee Passes with lesser impacts expected on valley roads, aside from some occasional slush first thing in the mornings.
From Saturday through Monday, a more robust storm cycle is expected with the potential for heavy snow across the mid to higher elevations of the Tetons. Valleys will see accumulations from time to time as well, mainly during the overnight and morning hours.
Temperatures will remain colder than average through the weekend but will rise above freezing in the valley each day with highs in the 30s. Skiing conditions will be outstanding for this late in the season, but beware of avalanche danger if heading into the backcountry.
Next Tuesday and Wednesday (April 4-5), confidence is fairly low in how the pattern will evolve as another storm is expected to move into the Western U.S., but it’s uncertain on how much snow will reach the Tetons and whether or not most of the action passes to our south.
Unsettled weather is likely to continue through at least the middle of next week (April 5-6), then there are some signs that we could finally start to quiet down a bit heading into the weekend of April 8-9 and into the week of April 10.
Temperatures are still expected to be on the cooler side of average during this period, but should gradually trend warmer once we get beyond April 6 or so, which should accelerate lower valley snowpack melting a bit – but hopefully not too much all at once.
Alan Smith, Meteorologist