Not a normal winter month in the Tetons but we have stayed on course with annual precipitation. The month was warmer than average with low precipitation. Early season storms keep the snowpack near normal. The month ends with hard and frozen snow conditions, some bears emerging early from their winter dens and no snow in the town of Jackson.
The month of February was warm but ended with a cold snap and March begins with a storm. Meteorologists can’t predict our March weather since weather patterns have been inconsistent. A high pressure off the coast of California has kept the West dry allowing Canadian air/weather to drop into the eastern United States. Presently, moisture content in the mountains hovers at 100% but could change if pattern continues. Time will tell.
Both elk and moose were counted in February. Biologists try to get an accurate number of animals for management. The count usually occurs when they are concentrated in the winter. 8,390 elk were counted on the National Elk Refuge which is 68% higher than the goal. Moose were counted by biologists and local Nature Mappers but I haven’t seen the numbers.
The amount of land for winter habitat is a great factor when determining animal populations. Moose are all over town so keeping an alert eye is key. They can be aggressive and incidents have occurred. I seem to see them every time I walk on the bike path, south of town in Rafter J or the Snake River.
Making noise helps alert the animals. Don’t forget they can move FAST. Out running a moose doesn’t work since they can travel quite well through the snow and run at bursts of speed of thirty miles an hour. Living in an area that supports the diversity of life is awesome but being cautious is very important to not stress the animals and for our safety.
February brought some interesting cloud formations. Lenticular clouds form above mountains in the troposphere (lowest portion of the atmosphere) and appear lens-shaped. They flow perpendicular to the mountain in alignment with wind direction. Mid-month brought sun and amazing clouds and this photo was taken from Shadow Mountain offering a great view.
March will bring more daylight and longer days. I heard Red-Winged Blackbirds in Wilson, WY a couple of weeks ago and they were singing Spring. Changes will occur daily. I feel confident to speak for the community- more snow would be great.
What’s in the woods
2/7- rain / snow mix
2/9- cow moose on village road
2/11- bald eagle on snake river
2/12- big horn sheep on elk refuge, moose on gros venter river, shadow mountain- three bison in deep snow, porcupine
2/16- flat creek- young bull moose
2/17- gros ventre river- three moose
2/19- high of forty degrees, snow in forecast
2/19- elk refuge- elk, trompeter swans, big horn sheep, great blue heron!
2/23- single digits- cold snap
2/24- spring gulch road- mature bald eagle
The warmer temperatures in February made for great crust skiing. Cold nights and warm days allows a crust to form on the top of the snow. This firmness enables you to ski and stay on top of the snow like floating along in any direction. Early winter rain also contributes to the crust. Driving to Grand Teton Park and skiing from the Taggert Parking Lot is a favorite spot. Just put the skis on and go. You can also drive north and access the northern park from Signal Mountain. You can’t beat sunny blue skies and the ability to go anywhere. Great fun!