Jackson Hole Winter 2019-20 Review

The “meteorological” winter season is officially ended, defined by the months of December, January and February. The astronomical winter season, which began on the Winter Solstice (December 21st, 2019), runs until the Spring Equinox on March 19th this year.

Below is a re-cap of all the highs and lows and snow that we experienced here in Jackson Hole this winter season.

December 2019: Cold and Dry

In the Town of Jackson, temperatures this past December were colder than normal. The average high temperature was 27-degrees, two degrees below average. The average low temperature for the month was 2-degrees, which was five degrees colder than December’s long-term average low temperature.

Precipitation and snowfall were both well below normal in December in town, with 0.82 inches and 11 inches, respectively. Average precipitation in town in December is 1.52 inches, whereas, the snowfall averages 17 inches.

The mountains were also behind in the snowfall department during the month of December. At the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, at the Rendezvous Bowl study plot (at the 9,580-foot elevation), total snowfall in December was only 68 inches, compared to a long-term average snowfall in December of 81 inches.

January 2020: Warm and Wet

Where December lagged behind, January more than made up for it, in both temperature and precipitation.

Cam Fitzpatrick shreds January’s Powder
on Togwotee Pass

In town, the Jackson Climate Station had an average high temperature of 30-degrees this January, which is three degrees warmer than the long-term average high. The average low temperature in January 2020 was almost 14-degrees, 13.6 F to be exact. That is nearly ten degrees warmer than the long-term average low temperature in January of 4-degrees.

Precipitation was well above the average, with 2.06 inches in town in January, more than a half-inch above the long-term average of 1.52 inches. Snowfall also exceed the average this January, nearly twice the long-term average. January 2020 had 36 inches of snowfall recorded in town, compared to an average in January of 19 inches.

The Jackson Hole Mountain Resort had a banner January for snowfall, shattering the old January snowfall record. The Rendezvous Bowl site recorded 169 inches of snowfall in January 2020, blowing past the old January record of 150 inches from January 1998. To put that in perspective, the average snowfall in January up there is 87 inches.

January 2020 became the third snowiest month ever recorded at JHMR. Only December of 1996 with 225 inches, and February of 2019 with 196 inches, had bigger monthly snowfalls on the mountain.

February 2020: Cold and Snowy

February began looking like it might be a warm one, with high temperatures in the lower 40’s the first two days of the month. That was just a tease, as the Town of Jackson Climate Station recorded an average high temperature this February that was a full four degrees colder than normal, 28-degrees versus 32-degrees.

The average low temperature this February was 0.6-degrees, which was also much colder than normal, nearly seven degrees colder than the long-term average low temperature in Jackson of 7-degrees.

The coldest day of the Winter of 2019-20 was on February 20th, 2020 when it got down to 25-degrees below zero. That also tied the record for the coldest temperature ever recorded in Jackson on that date, tied with February 20, 1955.

Precipitation in town came in below average by only a tenth of an inch. However, snowfall in February was above average, with 20 inches recorded versus our average February snowfall of 14 inches.

February 2020 snowfall in the mountains was also above average, with 94 inches at the Rendezvous Bowl site compared to the historic average of 73 inches for the month of February. Nowhere close to February 2019’s record snowfall of 196 inches.

The author in deep on “25-Short” in GTNP early February 2020

Summary: Colder & Snowier than Normal

Overall, the average high and low temperatures in the Town of Jackson were colder than normal for the meteorological winter of 2019-20. Each registered one-degree Fahrenheit below the historic averages for that three-month period.

Precipitation ended up only a quarter inch shy of average, with 3.91 inches versus the average total precipitation for December through February of 4.16 inches.

Snowfall was resoundingly above average this winter in town, with 67 inches of snowfall recorded at the climate station, compared to the long-term average for December through February of 50 inches.

Mountain snowfall also checked in with a total for the three-month period of 331 inches. That was a little less than last winter’s 365 inches for the same time period. Although, this winter still received 90 inches more snow than the historic average snowfall total for December through February, of 241 inches at Rendezvous Bowl.

Post by meteorologist Jim Woodmencey

Most of this post originally appeared in the March 11th, 2020 issue of the Jackson Hole News & Guide.