The month’s weather varied. Temperatures were a bit warm early in December, followed by cooling, a period of stormy weather, then frigid. When winter began, Jackson weather was snowy and cold. The winter Solstice was on December 21 so about 7.5 hours of daylight in Jackson and a storm raged. By the end of the month, 162 inches of snow has fallen at the Rendezvous Bowl plot in Teton Village, elevation 9,580 feet.
The new snow left a nice base in the valley. Winter activities abound. Web site: JH Nordic shares cross-country information, trail conditions, tour options and much more. Both ski areas share good conditions. It’s time to get out and play.
In Jackson Hole, winter is our longest, wettest season. It’s the melting snow that keeps everything green and growing in the spring and summer months. Average snowfall is 400 inches at 9000 feet.
Since winter can be quite cold and snowy, native people did not winter in our valley. It wasn’t until homesteaders came to the valley in the late 1800’s that homes were built and people stayed throughout the winter. I always wonder what those first homesteaders thought as temperatures plummeted below zero, winds howled, and snowdrifts formed. I bet some couples had interesting conversations in the middle of winter as they tried to survive.
Temperatures have been well below zero for the past week. When this cold, the skies are clear and the air is still. Snowshoeing or cross-country skiing are great activities since they get you moving and your blood pumping.
These conditions usually create an inversion. An inversion is commonly described as an increase in temperature with height. Cold air gets trapped in the valley while air warms at higher elevations. This makes higher elevations a great place to explore when an inversion is in place. Phillips Pass is fun to explore above the town of Wilson but be aware that the higher you go, the more potential for unstable snow and avalanche.
January begins with snow is in the forecast. We are ready for a change.
What’s in the woods
12/6- muskrat on banks of flat creek, near town
12/9- swans flying over town
12/11- moose on East Gros Ventre Butte
12/20- muskrat feeding
12/21- moose near airport, big horn sheep near Miller Butte
12/22- stormy week, start of winter
12/24- rough-legged hawk on the elk refuge
12/28- frigid cold temperatures
Near town, you can’t beat a ski or walk up Cache Creek. This is a popular area and great for a quick getaway. You drive out Broadway (east), turn right on Redmond then left on Cache Drive and follow to the trailhead. This is a heavily used area so a fun place to go if you are new to the valley. You can walk or ski up the road. The south of the drainage is also open to exploring but the north side is mostly closed for wildlife habitat. If you do bring a dog, please clean up after your furry friend. Dogs and their waste have been an issue. Skinny Skis, a local mountaineering store, publishes Trailhead which is a great local guide for tour locations, gear and preparing for winter travel. Have fun!