Thanksgiving storm brought record snow to Riverton, followed by record cold

    The storm that came to town for Thanksgiving last week dropped 22 inches of snow on the ground in Riverton, breaking the previous record for snowfall in a 24-hour period, according to National Weather Service data.

    The previous record was set on April 1, 1979, when Riverton received 17 inches of snow, NWS lead meteorologist Richard Lowe said Tuesday.

    No record in Lander

    Lander saw up to 21 inches of snow during last week’s storm, Lowe noted – not enough to break that city’s record for snowfall in a 24-hour period.


    “They’ve had more than that before,” he said.

    In fact, Lander usually gets more snow than Riverton, especially during upslope storms like the one that visited Fremont County last week.

    But Lowe said the Thanksgiving winds came in from the east-northeast, as opposed to just “straight east,” so the storm “had more of an impact for the entire area.”

    “Here in the Wind River Basin is where we got the most snowfall,” Lowe said. “This whole Wind River Basin … got impacted more than anywhere else.”


    Record cold

    Because there is so much snow on the ground, Lowe said, “it’s going to take a while for anything to melt.”

    In the meantime, he explained, the blanket of snow “is going to trap this cold air in,” creating a temperature inversion that prevents warmer air above the basin from mixing down to the surface.

    “That’s why it stays colder here in the basin, especially when there’s snowpack on the ground,” Lowe said.


    Temperatures in Riverton fell steadily after last week’s storm, dropping from a high of 52 degrees Wednesday to a high of 36 degrees Thursday, then down to highs of 21 degrees Friday, 18 degrees Saturday, and 12 degrees Sunday, according to the NWS.

    On Monday, Lowe said the low temperature in Riverton was -8 degrees – breaking the previous record of -5 degrees for the day, set in 2015.

    Tuesday morning “wasn’t quite as cold,” he continued, but the temperature was “still below 0.”



    In the coming days, Lowe said local temperatures should continue to increase by “a couple of degrees every afternoon,” but they will remain below freezing.

    “It’s going to be slow to rise here in the basin just because of that snowpack,” he said. “But we have ample sunshine, so hopefully that will melt some (snow) out there, and that will allow temperatures to increase.”

    He did not predict snow in the short-term forecast.

    For more information call the NWS at 857-3898.


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