|Bison in Yellowstone NP at 40F below zero.|
For many years there has been confusion surrounding the actual location of the Riverside Ranger Station that recorded a temperature of -66°F on Feb. 9, 1933. This figure has long been erroneously reported as the coldest temperature ever measured in Wyoming (See NCDC site for instance). The problem is that this (no longer existing) ranger station was actually located in the Montana section of Yellowstone National Park. It was situated where the town of West Yellowstone, Montana now resides.
The reason for this confusion originates from the fact that the Climatological Data by Sections USWB report for February 1933 includes Yellowstone National Park in its Wyoming section even though portions of the park, including the site of Riverside R.S., are in Montana and Idaho. If one looks at the station I.D. number (248857) on the Western Regional Climate Center’s station summaries lists we see that the site was established in 1924 (when the ranger station was established) and then continues at the same location in later years as “West Yellowstone, Montana”.
Also, I have personally(Christopher Burt the blogger) visited this area and investigated the location of the ranger station and can confirm that the site was in Montana when it was built in 1924 (by only 200 yards!).
The actual record low for the state of Wyoming is -63°F at Moran on that same night of Feb. 9, 1933.
This map from 1929 shows the exact location of the Riverside Ranger Station. It is just sandwiched between the border of the national park (the large green border) and the border between Wyoming and Montana (the small dashed border). The name of the ranger station is not given, it just says “ranger station” but this is, in fact, the Riverside Ranger Station (named ‘Riverside’) because it is by the Madison River. One can understand the confusion of the location so far as being in Wyoming or Montana.
With regards to how cold it can get in Star Valley, the official records are not extensive. However there have been two stations that have a somewhat lengthy record. One was located 2 miles south of Grover from 1903-1957 and the current one is located 3 miles southeast of Bedford which goes back to 1975.
There are unofficial reports of 50 below at different times in past history, however the only temperature of record that low was at the 2 S of Grover station on both the 19th and 20th of December 1924, when it dropped to –55F.
The coldest at the 3 SE Bedford station was -38F on January 1 1979.