To say we had a sub-par winter this year, might be an understatement. It started late, finished early, and wasn’t as snowy as you may have become accustomed to, especially if you’ve been around Jackson Hole the last seven years or so.
Rarely though do a few words tell the whole story. So, I’ll review the data and break down all the details for the winter season of 2021-22, to see how this winter compared to past years here in Jackson Hole.
Less Town Snow
Total snowfall from December 1st, 2021 to April 1st, 2022 was 54 inches. According to data from the Town of Jackson Climate Station. That was about 7 inches shy of the long-term average for the four-month period of 61 inches, or 89-percent of normal snowfall.
Snow that began late in December 2021 saved us this winter, accounting for 26 inches of the winter’s total snow. That was 9 inches more than the average December snowfall and the only month this winter that had above average snowfall in town.
Last winter, in 2020-21, town snowfall came in right at normal, with 61 inches. However, the two winters prior to that were quite snowy, with around 90 inches of snowfall in town in the winter of 2019-20 and 2018-19. You may recall that February of 2019 broke a record with 55 inches of snow in town. Compared to only 5 inches this February.
Town Precip more than Last Winter
The amount of water contained in this winter’s snowfall also came up short of the long-term averages. December through March 2021-22 total precipitation in town was 3.91 inches, compared to the long-term average of 5.39 inches, or 73-percent of our normal winter precipitation.
What surprised me though was that the previous winter had less water than we received this winter. Total precipitation for winter 2020-21 was only 3.78 inches.
Including precipitation from October and November 2021 brings Jackson’s total precipitation for the last six months up to 7.13 inches. That puts Jackson at 91-percent of the long-term average for October through March of 7.86 inches. Which is ahead of what we had for total precipitation in October-March 2020-21, which was only 6.38 inches.
Temps Up and Down
According to the monthly average temperatures at the Jackson Climate Station, December and March were both warmer than normal, but January and February were much colder than normal.
Looking at the mean monthly temperatures, December 2021 was 8 degrees warmer than normal; January 2022 was 7.5 degrees colder than normal; February 2022 was almost 6 degrees colder than normal; and March 2022 was 2.5 degrees warmer than normal in town.
If you take the average of the mean temperatures for the four months, then the Winter of 2021-22 ended up at 19 degrees, which is one degree colder than the long-term average mean temperature for December through March of 20 degrees.
Jackson had a total of 45 days between December 1st, 2021, and March 31st, 2022, with low temperatures at or below zero. Forty of those days occurred in January and February. The coldest day of the winter was January 29th, 2022, with a low of minus 21 degrees.
The previous winter, 2020-21, we had 46 days with low temperatures at or below zero in town, and the coldest day was also minus 21 degrees, on December 29th, 2020.
Mountain Snow was Down
At Jackson Hole Mountain Resort’s Rendezvous Bowl weather station, at around the 9,600-foot elevation, the total snowfall from December 1st, 2021, to April 1st, 2022, was 241. The long-term average snowfall for that four-month period is 307 inches. December 2021 alone accounted for 112 of those 241 inches and was also the only month this winter that had above average snowfall.
In the bigger picture, the total season snowfall on the mountain, from October 1st, 2021, to April 1st, 2022, was 321 inches. That is 82-percent of the historic average snowfall for that time period, which is 392 inches.
Compared to the previous winter, when the mountain received 100 inches more than average, with a grand total of 493 inches from October 1st, 2020 to April 1st, 2021, or 126-percent of normal. Including the memorable 172 inches of powder that fell in the mountains in February of 2021.
This past winter was the first below average snowfall winter that we have seen on the mountain in the last seven years. The last time we had a winter with below average mountain snowfall was in 2014-15. That winter had less snow than this winter, from October 1st to April 1st, 2014-15, the total snowfall was only 297 inches.
There have actually been eight winters in the last 47 years at JHMR with less snowfall than this one, including the driest winter ever, 1976-77, which only had 188 inches of total snowfall.
So, count your blessings, as my mother always says. Maybe this winter didn’t live up to the dream winters we have experienced over the last decade or so, but there is always next year! And let’s pray that this winter was a one-off.
Jim is the chief meteorologist at mountainweather.com and has been forecasting the weather in Jackson Hole and the Teton Range for over 30 years.
Portions of this post first appeared in the Jackson Hole News and Guide, on April 6th.