Snow Moves 3 Feet Up Wyoming Stop Sign In A Week, Boosting Odds It Gets Buried

A week ago, the outlook was bleak that a lonely stop sign on Togwotee Pass in the middle of nowhere in Wyoming would be buried in snow. But by Wednesday morning, the snow had moved 3 feet up the sign, upping the odds it gets buried by April 1.

Andrew Rossi

March 06, 20245 min read

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How much snow has fallen in the first week of March around Wyoming? Just check the stop sign on Togwotee Pass in the Absaroka Mountains.

A week ago, the stop sign on the Wyoming Department of Transportation webcam at Wind River Lake was towering over the snow collected around it. Now, it’s only a storm or two away from being completely buried.

Ron Hansen, owner of the Wind River Outdoor Co. in Lander, said it’s not unusual for so much snow to fall in a few days. That’s what makes March, and the annual Stop Sign Snow Challenge, so exciting for snow-covered spectators.

The challenge is a contest where people guess when snow could completely cover the stop sign. A week ago, it wasn’t looking good for a winner at all, with the snow only about a third of the way up the sign. After a weekend of heavy snowfall, the level has moved up the sign about 3 feet and now only a few inches of post below the sign is showing.

“This is the time of year when you know what's going to happen,” Hansen said of Wyoming’s notorious spring snowstorms. “If you're a betting person, this is when I would bet on it.

Weekend Weather

The first weekend of March hit western Wyoming hard, dumping several feet of snow in the mountains. The Jackson Hole Ski Resort recorded at least 70 inches of snow in less than three days.

The forecast for the first full week of March is also covered in snow. A Winter Storm Warning was in effect for Togwotee Pass on Wednesday morning, and the National Weather Service forecast anticipates snow all week in the area.

March tends to be the snowiest month of the winter season.

Cowboy State Daily meteorologist Don Day said a combination of warmer temperatures and favorable weather patterns usually brings plenty of moisture to the Cowboy State.

“As it starts to get warmer this time of year, the storms get bigger,” he said. “The snowiest months, in terms of inches of snow, are usually March and April.”

Looking outside Wednesday, Hansen said he saw promisingly dark clouds collecting over the Absaroka Mountains. He noted that snowmachine tracks visible on the road Tuesday night were buried by Wednesday morning.

Everyone’s enjoying the spectacle of snow engulfing the Wind River Lake stop sign, while Hansen finds more optimism as the sign becomes less visible. That snow should mean a safer, more productive summer for many Wyomingites.

“The big thing is this means water for the fisheries, farmers, and ranchers and hopefully less fire activity for the summer,” he said. “Every snowflake that falls up there is a good thing.”

The Going Gets Good

Hansen and several other Wyomingites have a more entertaining way to monitor the rising snow through Wind River Outdoor Co. Stop Sign Snow Challenge. March is when the contest usually gets exciting.

This year, more than 500 people guessed which day they believed the stop sign at Wind River Lake would be completely buried in natural snowfall. The person closest to the actual date wins some gear from Wind River Outdoor Co.

Though the annual challenge extends from the first snowfall of the current winter season through April 1, Hanse said most people hedge their bets for the latter half of March. Just as it happened over the last week, all it takes is one good storm to make things interesting.

“Generally speaking, those storms happen in the latter half of February and March,” he said. “Right now, it's maybe 6 to 8 inches to the bottom of the sign.”

On Feb. 28, the snow was at least 3 feet from the bottom of the sign. If it keeps snowing, the sign could be wholly buried by St. Patrick’s Day, March 17.

However, there’s more going on than just snow falling. Hansen said sunny days and warmer temperatures can melt the snow as fast as it falls.

“Several years ago in April 2019, (the snow) got to like the bottom of the lettering on the sign, and that's where it stayed,” he said. “It’d melt a couple of inches, then snow a couple of inches, then melt again. Only the top 2 or 3 inches of the sign were sticking out.”

Close, but no cigar. For a winner to be declared, the stop sign must be buried completely before April 1. That hasn’t happened in the last few years, but Hansen sees a promising forecast this year.

“It's going to make a run for it,” he said. “If we get another storm like (this weekend’s), that sign will get buried. There's no doubt about that.”

Andrew Rossi can be reached at

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Andrew Rossi

Features Reporter