After weeks of warm, dry weather that’s been threatening Wyoming’s chance for a white Christmas — however you define it — a flurry of jet stream activity over the Pacific Ocean will reach the western United States by the end of this week.
While it doesn’t guarantee a white Christmas for Wyoming come next Monday, Cowboy State Daily meteorologist Don Day said it increases the odds for one.
“Most of the states, if not all of Wyoming, will have a chance for snow developing late Saturday and possibly continuing into part of Christmas Day, along with much colder temperatures,” he said. “The highest probability is probably Christmas Eve, but it could hang on in some parts of Wyoming and Christmas Day.”
Reason For the Season (So Far)
The latter half of 2023 hasn’t met the expectations of the “super El Niño season” many news outlets predicted in the first half of the year. Wyoming’s been experiencing streaks of warm, dry weather broken by occasional — but intense — spurts of winter with subzero temperatures and several inches of snow.
Meanwhile, a change is in the wind. Strong jet stream activity detected over the Pacific Ocean at the beginning of December is a hint that another cold streak is on the horizon for later in the month, Day said.
“Ultimately later, not quickly but later, that does mean the weather changes in the western side of the United States,” Day told Cowboy State Daily. “I'm expecting that to be happening probably around or just before Christmas, and between Christmas and New Year's, the weather pattern will get stormier.”
Now, with a week until Christmas, it looks like Day’s expectations could be realized. The Pacific jet stream will reach Wyoming with an impactful winter weather event this weekend.
“We definitely have something coming this weekend,” he said. “That will bleed on over into Christmas Day not only in Wyoming, but for most of the Rocky Mountains.”
Snow Or No?
An “impactful storm” arriving the weekend of the Christmas weekend begs the question: Will there be a white Christmas in Wyoming after all this year?
Day said a good meteorologist will never guarantee anything. He’s especially cautious when forecasting white Christmases because of the varying criteria of what makes a Christmas Day “white.”
However, Day said he’s confident with the timing of his forecast. He won’t say if or how much snow to expect, but he knows when Wyomingites will want to “pay attention” to what’s happening outside.
“We're confident of getting colder and snow chances going up,” he said. “And we're confident that it will be an impactful storm for travelers.”
Checking It Twice
Wyoming’s weather has been warm, but not warm enough to unfreeze the ground. Those should be ominous hints for travelers planning to drive across Wyoming for the holidays.
“You’re really not getting the ground very warm on these warmer days,” he said. “Any melting will be brief. It’ll accumulate and get really icy once the storm kicks in. Folks need to stay tuned.”
Wyomingites will want to get WYDOT’s 511 app and check it twice before embarking on a Christmas journey. An “impactful storm” all but guarantees the impacts of blowing snow, icy conditions and strong winds on state and federal highways.
And Don Day’s full Wyoming forecast is available every day on Cowboy State Daily’s website.
In the meantime, enjoy the mild winter weather while it lasts. Day said it’ll be more of the same (sunny, dry and temperatures in the low 50s) until the first flakes fall Christmas Eve.
“We're going to continue to have this great quiet weather here for a few more days,” he said. “But by the weekend, things start to change.”
Andrew Rossi can be reached at email@example.com.