Moisture Welcome, but Not a Drought-Buster

A brief period of weather conditions ideal for snowfall produced significant amounts of snow for a few locations in central and western Wyoming overnight on December 17-18, 2002, while many areas received little or no precipitation.

The snowfall was a welcome event to many Wyomingites who have endured drought conditions across the state for the past several years. While the moisture is definitely welcome, unfortunately it was not enough to have a significant effect on the overall drought conditions in the state.

Localized wind patterns resulting from Wyoming’s terrain combined with ample moisture in the atmosphere to produce a limited number of narrow bands of heavy snow. The areas of intensified snow developed late Tuesday afternoon over parts of central and western Wyoming, then drifted to southern Wyoming by Wednesday afternoon. The snow bands occurred in the Star Valley in far western Wyoming, along the northern edge of the Wind River Basin in the central part of the state, and over Casper Mountain on the northern end of the Laramie Range.

Heavier snowfall totals from within these areas include:

Casper Mountain................................................................11 inches.
Five miles east of Pavillion (northwest of Riverton).....8 inches.
Thayne (Star Valley)...........................................................8 inches.
Eight miles northeast of Riverton....................................7 inches.
Midvale Store (northwest of Riverton).............................6 inches.
Riverton airport....................................................................5 inches.
Teton Village........................................................................5 inches.
Afton.......................................................................................5 inches.
Cokeville...............................................................................4 inches.
Downtown Riverton............................................................4 inches.
Downtown Jackson............................................................4 inches.
Downtown Lander..............................................................3 inches.
Jeffrey City............................................................................3 inches.

However, within a few miles of the above measurements, significantly less snowfall was recorded, including:

Hudson.................................................................................2 inches
Kinnear (20 miles northwest of Riverton)......................2 inches
Downtown Casper..............................................................1 to 2 inches.
Shoshoni..............................................................................½ inch

Other snowfall reports from the area include:
Thermopolis.........................................................................2 ½ inches.
South Entrance of Yellowstone National Park...............2 inches.
Cowboy Village (near Togwotee Pass)...........................2 inches
Old Faithful (YNP).................................................................1 ½ inches.
Tower Falls (YNP)................................................................½ inch.

The radar image below (available in larger size by clicking on it) shows the location of the 7-mile wide, 30-mile long band of heavier snowfall that stretched to the northwest and east of Riverton. The radar estimated from .4 to .6 inch of liquid moisture content in the location where 8 inches of snow was reported, with a .2 to .4 inch of liquid moisture in the locations where snowfall measurements of 5 to 8 inches were reported. Because the radar’s signal overshoots the relatively low-topped clouds that produce snowfall, the estimates for locations farther from the radar fall short of the actual amounts, as is evidenced by the 11 inches reported on Casper Mountain, where the radar estimated less than .1 inch of liquid moisture content.






 


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