Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A Good Snow & Blow Session in Mid-December

With only a few days left until the official start of Winter on December 21st (or the end of the World, as the Mayans are calling for!), we are already well into the Winter Season with plenty of snow around Jackson Hole to guarantee a White Christmas for the valley. In the mountains, there is a ridiculous amount at the higher elevations in the Tetons, for this early in the season.

The Snow
From Friday through Monday around 20 inches of snow fell at around the 9500-ft. elevation in the Tetons. The Raymer weather station at the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort tallied 25 inches. And even over on Togwotee Pass 13 inches of snow at about the same elevation was measured at Brooks Lake Lodge and by the SnoTel instrument.

The Blow
It was the wind on Monday December 17th that was even more impressive, with average wind speeds at top of the Tram exceeding 40 mph at times and a maximum gust of 78 mph. Top of the Headwall had a gust of 75 mph.

Wind Graphs from Monday, December 17, 2012
Top of the Tram
10,450-ft. at JHMR
Mt. Coffin
10,850-ft. in the Salt River Range
Tram weather station
Mt. Coffin weather station

Record Wind Gust??
The big winner for wind speeds on Monday was Mt. Coffin in the Salt River Range east of Afton, WY at 10,850-ft. The weather station up there on that ridge clocked average speeds of over 100 mph and had an “unverifiable” gust of 266 mph.

Yes! 266 mph! That was about the same time the core of the jet stream was over Wyoming with winds at 30,000-ft. in excess of 150 mph. (See jet map). Possibly an erroneous reading as a result of the way the electronics in these instruments handle gusts??

IF this wind gust was verifiable, it would qualify as the highest gust ever recorded on the face of the earth. You might have thought the 231 mph gust on Mt. Washington in New Hampshire was the highest ever, back in 1934. That record was actually beaten by a wind gust during a typhoon in Australia back in 1996, with a measured gust of 253 mph.

BUT, I already checked with the folks who run the MesoWest at the University of Utah, the clearing house for all these weather stations, and they suspect that these super high gusts are false values that the electronics are providing in these instances.

Jet Stream Monday Dec. 17, 2012

Post by meteorologist Jim Woodmencey
Data from MesoWest
Photos from Bridger-Teton
Jet map from MeteoStar

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