The Winter Solstice, December 21, marks the beginning of winter in the northern hemisphere and this year it also marked the beginning of snow season in Jackson Hole. For most of December, the valley floor remained brown, temperatures reached into the forties, and winter recreation was delayed due to a lack of snow. Fortunately, Old Man Winter brought LOTS of fresh snow to the Tetons for the holidays. The storms brought high winds and over three feet of snow, and more is on the way. We are now close to our normal winter precipitation.
During winter months, it’s important to properly prepare for outdoor adventures. The margin of error is far less during wintertime with its short days, cold temperatures, stormy weather and potential for avalanches. Thankfully, we have resources in place to help us plan and prepare for safe outdoor experiences. Long-time local and chief meteorologist at mountainweather.com, Jim Woodmencey, shares sage advice to help decipher winter weather alerts.
Learn more: A guide to understanding weather alerts
The new year brought extreme weather to all of the Western states. Winter weather closed roads in California, Oregon and Washington, and extreme cold temperatures wreaked havoc across the country.
What is our role on Earth and how can we minimize our footprint to reduce potential for extreme weather? What changes can each of us make to reduce our impact?
Learn more: Winter snow, cold slam Northwest and Sierra
The new year brings the opportunity of reflection
and the motivation for change.
“He who marvels at the beauty of the world
in the summer will find equal cause for wonder
and admiration in the winter.”
Flat Creek, which flows through the town of Jackson, is a great habitat for Trumpeter Swans, Mallards, American Dippers, Moose and Deer.
During winter months, Bald Eagles can be spotted flying throughout the valley in search of carrion.
Rough-Legged Hawks return from the Arctic and will spend the winter in this region if they find sufficient food sources.
East Gros Ventre Butte above the town of Jackson is a winter habitat for the native Mule Deer. You can often find them on the hillsides. But stay alert as you drive through town. They like the ease of walking on roadways.
As the snow accumulates, the mountains open up to endless recreational opportunities. Remember to check the forecasts and be aware of avalanche danger and winter weather advisories. Make sure to “know before you go” so you are prepared.
For trail conditions and grooming updates, both JH Nordic and Teton County Parks and Rec post daily updates. On a sunny day, choose a tour near the Hermitage Point/Colter Bay area in Grand Teton Park. When it’s stormy, stick close to town and enjoy a cross-country ski tour up Cache or Game Creek.
Backcountry Safety & Etiquette
- Make sure to tell someone where you are going and stick to your plan
- Think safety first — bring extra layers, first aid kit, fire starter and extra snacks into the woods
- Be respectful of others on the trail and remember not to snowshoe in a cross-country ski track