John Colter Elementary School

Teton Country School District No. 1 announced Wednesday that it will remove 26 trees from around John Colter Elementary School, shown, and Jackson Hole High School.

The area around Jackson Hole High School and Colter Elementary School is short a few trees after a strong wind event Tuesday afternoon.

Several trees sustained damage, with one falling on a side entrance at Colter and causing minor roof damage.

“It kept our facilities folks hopping for a bit,” Teton County School District No. 1 Information Coordinator Charlotte Reynolds said.

Since the damage wasn’t to the main entrance that students use, Reynolds said, the summer school schedule wasn’t affected, and kids still showed up to learn Wednesday.

Tuesday’s late afternoon wind event happened after students and district staff had left for the day.

The school district inspects its trees regularly and after the event decided to take out one tree the wind had not toppled because its root system looked weak, Reynolds said.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecasters were looking into the incident Wednesday to investigate whether a microburst struck the area. Microbursts are strong, sudden downdrafts of wind created by unstable atmospheric conditions.

If they are large enough or carry strong enough winds, they can leave circular areas of ground-level damage that make them easy to identify, said forecaster Bill Murell, of the National Weather Service’s Riverton office. However, in this case the wind’s meteorological origins are unclear.

“It might not be conclusive whether it was microburst or straight-line winds,” Murell said. “It could just be that some of the branches or trees were weakened.”

Meteorologists can identify microbursts by looking at past radar, Murell said, but that may not be possible because Jackson lies too far from the closest radar stations in Riverton and Pocatello, Idaho.

No matter the explanation, the event was dramatic for those south of town.

“We just know as a result of the strong winds the trees came down,” Reynolds said.

Contact Tom Hallberg at 732-5902 or

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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