As I type this, the snow continues to fall outside. There are winter storm warnings posted by the National Weather Service with predictions of up to 2 1/2 feet of snow in some mountain areas and predictions of blizzard warnings along the plains. It’s the eve of a big snow storm in the Rocky Mountains and depending on your perspective, that bring both an air of excitement, or a feeling of doom and dread.
One of the things I think is most interesting is the reaction or lack of among my neighbors and residents of Nederland when it comes to snow storms. I wrote in a blog post last year about an East Coast Weather Bias. I remember living back east and how panic seemed to reign over the mere forecast of a few flakes of snow falling. I went to our local market today in Nederland to pick up a few assorted items, and the shelves were full of food and there were just a few people (no more than a regular day) that I encountered. Snow is part of the lifestyle here, and everyone just seems to take it in stride.
As I read about the blizzard warnings out on the plains, I reflect on how loosely that word “blizzard” gets used by the media especially when talking about East Coast weather. You hear the word blizzard very commonly used to talk about almost any decent sized snow storm, when in reality a true blizzard is something else and rarely occurs along the eastern seaboard. Blizzards don’t really require a lot of snow as much as they require a lot of wind with some snow to blow around, causing white out conditions with almost zero visibility. Blizzards are quite common on the plains with the wide open prairies and virtually nothing to stop the wind from swirling the snow around, whipping into giant drifts. Because eastern Colorado is ideal for blizzard conditions, it is quite common during the course of the winter to have these real “blizzards” occur along I-70 from Denver to the Kansas border and I-25 to the Wyoming border. I’m thankful to I don’t have to drive those roads during nights like tonights, as I personally think that can be more scary than driving a winding mountain road, where at least you have the trees along the sides of the road to guide you.
But despite all the warnings of driving in bad weather, I’m also feeling pretty excited tonight. This first big snowstorm feels like the kick off for the ski season. In fact, many of the resorts are open or will be opening this next week, and the anticipation of skiing makes me feel like a kid in a candy store. It’s even more exciting this year, knowing I’m working again part-time for a local ski resort, Winter Park. Feeling like I will get to be around people who feel like I do, that whoop and holler as they ski through the powder. I hope as an instructor, I will be able to pass on some of that fun and passion for the sport to those just starting out. That it will be the beginning of many happy winters for some little kid, who will also look forward to winter and snowstorms with a gleeful heart.