Jackson Wyoming just experienced one of the coldest and snowiest Aprils in the last 100 years. It all began with a precipitous drop in temperatures, following a high temperature of 62 degrees on April 8th, 2022, four days later, the high on April 12th was only 26 degrees. That broke the record for the minimum high temperature for that date, which was 33 degrees, set 48 years ago, in 1974.
How Cold Was April
The average high temperature in April 2022 in the Town of Jackson was 44 degrees, that is eight degrees colder than the long-term average. The average low temperature was 22 degrees, or two degrees cooler than average.
The mean temperature for April 2022, the average of the monthly high and low temperatures, was 33 degrees. That is five degrees colder than the long-term average mean temperature in April, which is 38 degrees.
Combing through Jackson’s climate records, going back to 1922, there were only six other Aprils that recorded a colder mean temperature, the coldest of those was 29 degrees, back in 1928. Based on monthly mean temperatures, April 2022 would rank as the 7th coldest April in the last 100 years.
How Snowy Was April
From the official climate data for Jackson, of all the Aprils with complete records, there have only been three other Aprils that were snowier than this one, and those happened over 50 years ago.
April 2022 had 16 inches of snowfall recorded at the Jackson Climate Station. That was just shy of the total snowfall in April 1970 of 17 inches and the 18 inches that fell in April 1963. This April was 8 inches short of the all-time April snowfall record in town of 24 inches, from April of 1967.
The average snowfall in town in April is 4 inches. Last year, April 2021, only had 1.5 inches of snowfall.
It’s also worth noting that this April’s 16 inches of snowfall bested January 2022’s total of 15 inches and was also more than the total snowfall received in February and March of 2022 combined, which was 13 inches.
How Wet Was April
Total precipitation in town this April was 1.95 inches, which is 171-percent of the long-term average April precipitation of 1.14 inches. April 2022 would rank as the 13th wettest April in the last 100 years. That is not exactly headline worthy, but this April was a big improvement over last April’s precipitation, which was a measly 0.37 inches in April 2021.
April 1963 is the wettest April in the weather record books for Jackson, with 2.66 inches of precipitation. Second place was just a few years ago in 2019 when Jackson had 2.48 inches of precipitation in April.
Jackson’s total precipitation in town from October 1st, 2021, through April 30th, 2022, now stands at 9.08 inches, which is just a skosh above the long-term average precipitation during that seven month time period.
Mountain Snow and Water
If you are a powder skier, April was what we were hoping for all of January, February and March. Yes, the mountains got dumped on this April, which helped bring the Snow Water Equivalent (SWE) in the Snake River Basin up to 92-percent of normal on April 30th, 2022. At this same time last year, the SWE in the Snake River Basin was only at 65-percent of average.
The water year in the mountains begins on October 1st and SWE is the best indicator of how much water is stored in the snowpack. Typically, the numbers peak at the end of April, when the mountain snowpack begins to melt in earnest.
SWE and precipitation numbers outlined here are based on the averages on April 30th for the latest 30-year period, from 1991-2020.
Overall, the total precipitation, snow and rain combined, in the Snake River Basin from October 1st, 2021, through April 30th, 2022, was 87-percent of normal. Last year the precipitation total for the same time period was at 80-percent of normal.
The Philips Bench SnoTel site on Teton Pass, at the 8200-foot elevation, averages 28.4 inches of precipitation from October 1st through April 30th. This year the total was 26.4 inches or two inches less than average. Last year on April 30th, 2021, the season’s precipitation total was almost only 24.5 inches or 4 inches below average.
The bottom-line here is, we’re still a little below normal with our snowpack and water in the mountains going into May, but we are certainly ahead of where we were last year at this same time, thanks to April’s bountiful snow.
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.