All posts by Jim Woodmencey

2023 Jackson Hole Weather Review

Looking back at 2023, I would have to say that it provided more good weather news than bad.

It was a year that would begin with abundant snowfall and very cold temperatures throughout the winter months, followed by a cool and very wet summer, only to end that trend with two months of warmer and drier weather. That was 2023 in a nutshell.

I’ll summarize all the ups and downs, highs and lows, and highlights of the weather experienced here in Jackson Hole this past year. I will also look at how 2023’s weather compared to recent years and to the long-term averages, from the data at the Jackson Climate Station.

The End

Let’s begin with the bad news first, how the year ended on such a dry note. November 2023 had less than a half an inch of precipitation in town and just over 4 inches of snowfall, all of that coming in the Thanksgiving storm. Jackson’s average precipitation in November is 1.30 inches and average snowfall in November is 9 inches. In contrast, in November of 2022 Jackson had 3.20 inches of precipitation and 21 inches of snowfall.

December averages 1.52 inches of precipitation and 17 inches of snow in the Town of Jackson. December 2023 only had 0.70 inches of water and 5.8 inches of snowfall. The year ended with only one inch of settled snow on the ground on December 31st, 2023.  Last year, December of 2022 had 2.32 inches of precipitation and 22 inches of snowfall. On the last day of December 2022, there was 14 inches of settled snow on the ground in Jackson.

Late December 2023

This was not the driest, nor the least snowy December on record here, although, I had to dig pretty deep to find Decembers that were grimmer than this one. There were maybe a dozen other Decembers in the records that had less snowfall than this December, but most had more than an inch of settled snow on the ground at year’s end.

One of the grimmest Decembers was 1976, which only recorded 4.5 inches of snowfall for the month and reported no snow on the ground in town on December 31st. December of 1962 was worse, with no snowfall all month and no snow on the ground at year’s end. December of 1917 had only 4.9 inches of snowfall and also reported no snow on the ground in town on December 31st.

The Beginning

Going back to the start of 2023, the year began with bountiful snow and it was also very cold. January, February, March, and April all had above average snowfall. We also achieved record snow depths in town during the first week of April 2023, with over 2 feet of settled snow on the ground at the Jackson Climate Station. That is deeper than has ever been officially recorded here at that time of year.

It was also a cold start to 2023, with well below average temperatures each month from January through April. There were also 53 days between January 1st and April 1st, 2023, with morning low temperatures of zero degrees or colder. The average number of days with temperatures of zero degrees or below in a whole year is 41 days. The coldest day of the year in 2023 was on January 31st, when it dropped to 33 below zero on the town thermometer.

That was all preceded by a colder than normal December and November in 2022. November 2022 was the coldest November ever recorded in the Town of Jackson. All that made for one of the longer, colder, and snowier winters that Jackson has ever experienced.

I should also mention that the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort had their snowiest winter on record in 2022-23, with 595 inches of snowfall, surpassing the old record of 585 inches from the Winter of 1996-97.

Last winter was literally like having two winters in one, perhaps compensating for this winter’s slow start.

The Middle

Fortunately, spring sprang quickly, temperatures warmed, but Jackson remained wetter than normal in April, May and June. Snow started melting and began filling our depleted reservoirs, taking them from around 25-percent capacity to near 100-percent full.

May 2023 was a about one degree warmer than the long-term average for the mean temperature in May, (mean temperature is the average of the monthly high and low temperatures). That was the first month since September of 2022 that had an above average monthly mean temperature in town.

Below average monthly temperatures returned for June, July, and August of 2023, all three months recorded below normal mean temperatures. The hottest day of the year was on July 24th, with a high temperature of 89 degrees.

July was drier than normal this summer, but June and August more than made up for that deficit. The Summer of 2023 ended up with a total of 6.19 inches of rainfall in town, compared to the long-term average total rainfall in June-July-August of 3.77 inches.

That all added up to a cool, wet, and very green summer in 2023. Perhaps one of the greenest summers I have seen in my 40-plus years living in Jackson.

Our run of cooler and wetter than normal weather extended into September and October of 2023. Then, as described above, that trend abruptly ended in November and December of 2023.

In Summary

The Jackson Climate Station has historic records dating back to 1905. There are missing months and years interspersed in that record, only the months and years with complete weather recordings are used to establish the historic or long-term averages. The table included below compares recent years to those historic averages.

The year 2023 ended up cooler than average, overall, by almost two degrees. It was wetter than average by almost five inches, and it fell one inch short of the average for annual snowfall in town.

Keep in mind, it is the extremes of weather that make our averages. From month to month, year to year, or decade to decade, the weather is constantly changing. There will be highs and lows, warm periods and cold periods, dry spells, wet spells, snowier months or seasons, as well as less snowy periods. It’s fascinating to me how variable our weather can be, and this year was no different in that respect.


Post by meteorologist Jim Woodmencey


Winter 2023-24 Outlook is quite varied

Almost as soon as October rolls around, I start getting hit with the same perennial questions: “When is it going to start snowing?”, and “What kind of winter are we going to have?”

I don’t particularly like winter to start too early, summers are way too short here in Jackson Hole, and I usually welcome any extension of summer-like weather into the early fall.  Last year snowfall began in town on October 24th, 2022 and it kept coming. The Winter of 2022-23 then went on to be a record-breaking snowfall winter for the mountains.

This year, the first snowfall wit accumulation in the Town of Jackson was on October 26th, 2023. The big question is: Will we see a repeat of last winter’s well above normal snowfall and well below normal temperatures? The answer lies somewhere within all the predictions, which I will outline for you in this week’s column.

NOAA’s Outlook

Let’s start with latest the long-range outlook from NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, issued in October 19, 2023.

For December 2023 through February 2024 temperatures are predicted to be above normal across the northern tier of the United States. In Northwest Wyoming chances of a warmer winter are in the 33 to 40% chance category, that is, they are just barely leaning towards warmer for us.


Precipitation for the three-month period is expected to be above normal across the southern tier of the United States, and below normal across much of the northern tier of the U.S. In Northwest Wyoming, NOAA has us again at a 33 to 40 percent chance of seeing below normal precipitation this winter, and very close to the edge of a 40 to 50 percent chance of below normal.  A rather bleak outlook for snow enthusiasts.

California and the central Rockies right now look to at least have some chance of above normal precipitation this winter.


ENSO Forecast

As you may have heard, El Nino is back, and NOAA is predicting a 95 percent chance that this El Nino will continue through March of 2024. They are now predicting a 75 to 85 percent chance that it will become a strong El Nino.

According to NOAA: “A strong event doesn’t guarantee strong global impacts, but it does increase the odds that some level of impacts will occur in places with a history of being affected by ENSO.”

El Nino is one phase of ENSO, the El Nino Southern Oscillation. An El Nino condition is when sea surface temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific are warmer than normal. A La Nina occurs when those temperatures are colder than normal, which is the condition we had for the previous three winters. Both El Nino and La Nina have some effect on the weather patterns that develop, primarily across the Pacific Ocean during the Northern Hemisphere’s winter season.

Typically, an El Nino condition will favor more precipitation, and more snow, over the Sierras in California and across the Southwestern U.S., while the northern tier of the U.S. is generally drier in an El Nino winter.

El Nino winters are not known for producing big winters in Jackson Hole. Looking back at the 13 El Nino winters we have had since 1975, only three of those produced above average snowfall in the mountains, and barely. The rest were all below average snowfall winters here.

NOAA’s long-range outlook for the United States seems to align closely with what a typical El Nino winter would produce.

OK, that was the bad news. Now on to the good news.

Farmers Almanacs

The map inside the 2024 Old Farmer’s Almanac shows that almost the entire country is predicted to experience a cold and snowy winter, including Northwest Wyoming. The Pacific Northwest Coast is showing cold and dry, at the opposite end of the country Southern Florida is showing mild and dry.  The Southwestern U.S. is supposed to be cool and wet, the Southeast is listed as mild and wet, and the Northeast is depicted as mild and snowy.

The 2024 Farmer’s Almanac, that other almanac, is very similar to the Old Farmer’s forecast. It shows most of the country as wet and cold. The Rockies, including all of Wyoming, is described as cold with average snowfall. As their slogan on their map says for this winter, “the BRRR is Back!”.

Those are radically different pictures than the one NOAA has painted!

Other Indicators

As I mentioned in this column last fall when I gave the predictions for the coming winter, there are a few other things I pay attention to in nature that might portend what kind of winter we are going to have. First are the wooly worms, when they are all black in color, a snowy winter is in store, when they are browner or are striped with brown and black, there tends to be less snow. Last fall they were all black, this fall I have seen more brown than black ones.

The second indicator would be the raspberry crop. My neighbor has a bunch of raspberry bushes, and he says this year’s crop was healthy, but not as prolific as last year. Bumper crops of raspberries seem to equate to more snow.

The third indicator is the number of pinecones the squirrels are tossing out of the trees. Last fall, they were throwing down copious amounts of cones onto my roof and into my yard up on Snow King. So far this fall, the squirrels have been a little less aggressive storing up nuts for the winter.

From those indicators I would say the chances of seeing a repeat of last winter’s record snowfall are not high. The wildcard then becomes the competing predictions from NOAA versus the Almanacs. NOAA basically says warm and dry for us, while both Almanacs say cold and snowy.

I suppose we’ll have to wait until April to see who was right. Or perhaps we’ll land somewhere in the middle.