Brief Cold Snap in Mountain West

A few days ago, we mentioned the possibility of snow in the Bighorn Mountains of Wyoming.  Elevations above 10,000 ft did receive a few inches of snow, although it doesn’t appear the 6-7 inches mentioned in the advisory were verified.  In addition to the snow, there were some rather cold temperatures in the area.  Below are some highlights from various sources.

From the Riverton, WY NWS office:

An unseasonably strong cold front moved across Wyoming Friday night and Saturday ushering in well below average temperatures and widespread precipitation (especially east of the Divide).  Highs this past weekend were 15 to 25 degrees below average with lows 10 to 20 degrees below average.  Snow fell generally above 9000 feet with a few inches in the Bighorns above 10000 feet.  Some lower elevations west of the Divide reached freezing Saturday night.  Brrr!  In addition a significant hail storm affected the Riverton area around 700 pm Saturday evening with penny to quarter size hail.  Although temperatures will be warmer the next couple of days, they will still be well below average for this time of year.  A ridge is expected to build into the area late this week bringing back more typical summer temperatures.So far Casper is on pace to have the coolest summer (June 1 – Aug 31) on record (1939 to present).  Downtown Riverton is on pace to have the 17th coolest summer on record (1907 to present).  Lander currently is the 27th coolest summer on record (1891 to present). Rock Springs would be the 9th coolest with records going back to 1948.  So if you thought it was a cool summer, you would be right.

From the Billings (MT) Gazette:

“A few sites got an inch or two at most,” said Matt Solum, meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Billings. “Most of it was above 9,000 feet in the Bighorn Mountains and in Yellowstone park.”

A system that moved in Friday plunged temperatures into the low 30s in south-central Montana’s highest reaches, while producing highs in the 70s on the plains – 10 to 15 degrees below seasonal averages.

“It probably isn’t unusual, but it’s not typical,” said Keith Meier, meteorologist in charge at NWS Billings’ office. “It can happen, and, with this bizarre year, we’re having, you can’t rule anything out.”

Not to jinx things, but so far this summer has produced just one 100-degree day in Billings, on July 23. Temperatures in the 90s were recorded a total of only 17 days since the beginning of June. Weather Service calculations as of Sunday show the mean temperature for June, July and August is running 2.3 degrees below average.

July was only a little cooler than normal – about 0.08 degree. But June was 3.5 degrees below average and so far, August is trailing average by 2.7 degrees.

However, the yearly average, despite a late spring and a cool summer, is 0.1 degree above normal.

From the Deseret News in Salt Lake City, UT:

This fickle weather has set some records recently, too. On Monday, Alta and Brigham City both logged record-low maximum temperatures for the day, at 37 and 40 degrees respectively, breaking records decades old.

The day prior — Aug. 17 — Alta, Cedar City and Spanish Fork were also all colder that morning than ever recorded before, with the mercury only reaching the mid- to low 40s.

Some mountain valley locations have already hit freezing temperatures. For example, Coalville was just 32 degrees Sunday morning. There were also 2 inches of snow in the Uinta Mountains last Saturday morning and some of the new white stuff at the top of Snowbird.

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