With a whimper, ski season comes to an end. During the last seven years living on the Front Range here in Colorado, we’ve had some memorable April ski days. In fact, I can remember skiing the closing day at Winter Park several years ago during a snowy, powder day.
But not this year. This year has been one of the strangest, and driest winters we have experienced since we moved to Nederland. And it’s not just here in our small town, but up and down the Front Range.
Mid-November, I sat at an orientation at Winter Park, staring at dry brown slopes. It looked like it would be the ski season that wasn’t. A month later, it felt like the snow would never stop falling — on the west side of the divide. And then by February, it felt like spring had come early, with 50 degree temperatures turning the snow into slush.
But here on the east side of the Divide, we keep waiting for that snow that just never came. Our average snowfall at our home is around 150 inches. Now the way we’ve received those 150 inches changes dramatically each year. Some years, we get several big storms in excess of a foot or more. Some year, one big snowstorm of 40+ inches puts us well over 100 inches. Some years, we get frequent small storms of 6-8 inches.
But this year, it just never really happened. Several times, National Weather Service issued winter storm watches and warnings, getting our hopes up for good snow storm, only to wake up the next morning with an inch on the ground.
Listening to Public Radio the other day, they announced that this will go down as the least snowy winter in Denver EVER. That going back to records from the 1882, the 19 inches of snow they have received is the smallest amount of snow for the city. The real back breaker was the month of March, with only a trace of snow being recorded during a month when up slope storms from the Gulf usually deliver copious amounts of snow.
Now as we approach the end of April, hopes for late spring snowfall are fading, and we must accept our fate. With the dearth of snowfall, fears of a devastating wildfire season worry me. But then who knows, maybe a less than snowy winter, means a rainy summer, and all will turn out for the best.