Winter storm

Grand Teton National Park ranger Tiffany Franks opens the highway north of Moose Junction just before 9 a.m. Monday. The road had closed for several hours that morning due to winter conditions created by a powerful storm moving through the region.

A quick blast of winter weather Monday morning earned Jackson kids a couple of extra hours before school.

Blowing snow and dangerous road conditions caused Teton County School District No. 1 to delay the start of school by two hours. Parents and students got a morning together, whether they wanted it or not, but the district wasn’t interested in canceling school unless it absolutely had to.

Canceled school days need to be made up so students attend the required number, and those are often tacked on at the end of the year. In light of that, district administrators try to avoid encroaching on summer break.

“We try to maintain school so we don’t have to add those days in later,” Reynolds said.

Windy conditions were most apparent north of town. Blowing snow caused Grand Teton National Park to close Highway 89 between Moose and Moran for nearly three hours. It reopened around 9 a.m. Monday with a “no unnecessary travel” warning.

With 4 inches of new snow on the ground, the strong winds wreaked havoc on drivers.

“At the airport the winds were 28, gusting to 36 [mph],” MountainWeather.com meteorologist Jim Woodmencey said. “That’s going to move some snow around.”

Those conditions canceled at least one morning flight at Jackson Hole Airport, and several more were delayed as airlines waited for the worst of the storm to blow over.

By midday, the sun had poked out, though the wind persisted.

Woodmencey said the storm was headed east and looked poised to hit the rest of the state harder. The Casper Star-Tribune reported Monday afternoon that 13 inches of snow had fallen in Casper, and every highway leading out of the city was closed.

Though the storm was more generous to the rest of Wyoming than to Jackson, skiers have their eyes on the end of the week, when more snow could pass through. The National Weather Service predicts an 80% or 90% chance of snow from Wednesday night to Friday, though the federal agency didn’t say how much.

Other sites, though, say the Tetons are in for some powder days. OpenSnow.com predicts 12 to 24 inches from Wednesday night to Friday, while Snow-Forecast.com says 18 inches should fall.

Before that snow comes, Woodmencey said, colder weather will hit the valley, with temperatures dropping as soon as Monday’s storm cleared.

“The reason this seems like it has a good punch to it is the difference in temperature” from the weekend, he said Monday morning. “It’s already single digits at 10,000 feet, and we’ll see those temperatures in the valley Tuesday.”

Contact Tom Hallberg at 732-7079 or thallberg@jhnewsandguide.com.

Tom Hallberg covers a little bit of everything, from skiing to long-form feature stories. A Teton Valley, Idaho, transplant by way of Portland and Bend, Oregon, he spends his time outside work writing fiction, splitboarding and climbing.

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