First Day Of Spring Is Wyoming's Groundhog Day — Still 6 More Weeks Of Winter

Cowboy State Daily meteorologist Don Day says Tuesday might be the first day of spring but for Wyoming it might as well be Groundhog Day because there’s still six more weeks of winter left.

Andrew Rossi

March 18, 20245 min read

A Jekyll-and-Hyde El Niño system that's gripped Wyoming this winter is turning unseasonably warm again. But Cowboy State Daily meteorologist Don Day says to not be fooled. There's still another six weeks of winter left.
A Jekyll-and-Hyde El Niño system that's gripped Wyoming this winter is turning unseasonably warm again. But Cowboy State Daily meteorologist Don Day says to not be fooled. There's still another six weeks of winter left. (Greg Johnson, Cowboy State Daily)

Tuesday is the first day of spring, so that means after several months of frigid, snowy and windy weather, Wyomingites can change out that winter wardrobe, right?

Not by a longshot, said Cowboy State Daily meteorologist Don Day.

In fact, he believes the first day of spring would be more aptly described as Wyoming’s Groundhog Day.

“I consider the winter season in Wyoming going on another six weeks until we get through the end of April,” he said, adding that despite highs this week expected to be spring-like, “we’re not done with winter.”

The Yin And Yang

Given the forecast for the first few days of the 2024 spring season, Wyomingites might think Day’s barking up the wrong tree. Temperatures should be in the high 50s and low 60s for most of the week.

“The next four days will be gorgeous,” he said. “But as early as Thursday and Friday, it's going to start to get colder up in the northern part of the state with a little bit of shower activity, and by the latter half of the weekend and next week, it's going to get a lot colder. It looks like it'll be right back into a winter pattern again.”

Day said “colder” means temperatures could be as much as 30 degrees below average, which is pretty cold for this time of year.

“We're talking 50s and 60s across most of Wyoming today through probably Thursday,” he said. “And by Monday and Tuesday next week, we are only going to be in the 20s and lower 30s for highs. So, the back-and-forth, yin-and-yang of the changing seasons is certainly going to come into play.”

Wyoming’s Real Winter Season

The first day of spring is the spring equinox, the astronomical beginning of the spring season in the Northern Hemisphere and the autumn season in the Southern Hemisphere. Practically, that means each side of the Earth gets roughly the same amount of daylight that day.

More daylight doesn’t mean an immediate shift toward warmer, milder weather. Wyoming certainly doesn’t follow this mantra, at least in Day’s assessment of historical trends.

“Climatologically speaking, yeah, it snows in December, January and February,” he said. “You can get bigger storms. But the higher rates of snowfall and accumulation of snowfall happen as we transition out of winter into spring, which is right where we are now.”

Winter storms in December, January and February can be massive, with plenty of snow and freezing temperatures, like the polar vortex that crippled Wyoming in January. However, according to historical data, Day said bigger snowstorms happen more frequently in March and April.

“Snow goes all the way into early May,” he said. “I can go back and show numerous big snowstorms in Wyoming in late April and all the way up to Mother's Day weekend.”

Nothing says Mother’s Day like freezing cold and snow flurries. But that’s not too out of the ordinary for the Cowboy State.

From Day’s assessment of the data, the first day of spring usually means at least six more weeks of winter weather potential in the Northern Rockies. That’s why he considers it Wyoming’s true Groundhog Day.

“I don't want to give the impression that we're closing the books on winter,” he said. “Because we're not.

Slow Start, Strong Finish

If there’s any consolation to six more weeks of winter after the first day of spring, it means more moisture in areas where it's needed most. And Day believes that’s exactly what’s going to happen.

Once the 30-degree drop in temperature arrives this weekend, Day said it will primarily impact northern Wyoming. That should also mean more snow over the weekend and into next week.

“The northern half of Wyoming has had a milder winter so far, without a doubt,” he said. “I will say that the trend that we're going to see over the next two weeks is that those areas with mild winter conditions will be quite susceptible to this change back to colder weather. This is when we should expect the bigger snow events.”

There are no guarantees this far out, and the ongoing El Niño has thrown plenty of curveballs this season. But Day believes there’s a decent chance more of what’s been missing so far in the winter season is on its way to northern Wyoming.

“We’ve talked about a slow start and a strong finish,” he said. “That's how it looks like it will go, with more storms and more opportunities for winter weather on the back end.”

That’s why Day advocates for a new shadowy rodent holiday for the Cowboy State.

“This is our Groundhog Day,” he said. “Even though spring is tomorrow, I don't want to say that. I think we’ve got six weeks left, just need to find a groundhog now.”

Andrew Rossi can be reached at

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Andrew Rossi

Features Reporter

Andrew Rossi is a features reporter for Cowboy State Daily based in northwest Wyoming. He covers everything from horrible weather and giant pumpkins to dinosaurs, astronomy, and the eccentricities of Yellowstone National Park.