The snow that fell and accumulated in the winter of 2016-17 arguably goes down as tops — at least since reliable record-keeping started — in the history of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort.
From Oct. 1 to when the lifts stopped in the southern Teton Range on Sunday, the monitoring plot in Rendezvous Bowl detected 590 inches of total snowfall and a settled snowpack that measured 13 feet and 3 inches deep. Those measurements ever-so-slightly exceed the previous record winter of 1996-97 when 585 inches of snow fell and exactly 13 feet accumulated.
The winner of the race between ’96-’97 and ’16-’17 was determined the last day of the open season at the Village, MountainWeather.com meteorologist and Jackson Hole News&Guide columnist Jim Woodmencey said.
“It came down to the inches of snow that fell on Sunday to break the record for snowfall for the whole season, from Oct. 1 to April 9,” Woodmencey said.
Resort officials said Monday that they were waiting on an official Bridger-Teton Avalanche Center report and were not yet prepared to call this winter record-breaking.
Woodmencey cautioned that his snowiest and deepest proclamation should be taken with a grain of salt. Using different dates, he said, ’16-’17 does not quite reach the records set in the whopper winter of 20 years ago.
“If you go by the Dec. 1 to April 1 metric, we fell short,” he said.
Some October snowfall that bolstered the 590 inches, he said, melted off and wasn’t around when the ski season started. And if powder available to lift-accessed skiing is factored in, ’97 also takes the cake. Also, the lifts at Jackson Hole resort stopped April 7 two decades ago — not April 9 — affording two extra days to break the old record.
“But I don’t even know if that’s a point worth making,” Woodmencey said. “Who’s going to remember and who cares?
“It was one of the snowiest and deepest winters,” he said, “if not the snowiest and deepest ever.”
It appears the ’16-’17 winter hit the east slope of the Tetons, including Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, particularly hard. While above-average, it was a less deviant winter in terms of snowpack elsewhere in Jackson Hole. The 482 inches of snowfall measured through Monday at the Targhee Snotel monitoring site, for instance, amounts to 96 percent of the 500-inch average.
Snow King Mountain Resort measured 229 inches at its summit, a total that General Manager Ryan Stanley said was about three times the average.
The water year in the Snake River basin as of Monday had delivered 160 percent of the average precipitation and 146 percent of the median snowpack.
One thing Woodmencey said about this winter in absolute terms is that it was a long season to be a meteorologist.