Until it’s over. As I looked out the window last evening, the flakes started to fall. First just a few, then more. Perfectly formed, large, fluffy flakes. By the time I got up this morning in Winter Park, Colorado, snow fell at a rapid rate, covering the trees and the sidewalks. Though it had been forecasted, I reacted with part excitement and part relief, that in fact, the snow fell.
Though the calendar says spring has arrived, winter has gotten a second win here in Colorado, and a whole lot of mountain residents couldn’t be happier about that. With below average snowpack, and fire danger on everyone’s mind, this weekend brought in a welcome blast of snow over the mountains.
In Winter Park, Colorado, snow began in earnest on Thursday night and continued through the day. With another storm rolling in Saturday night, totals are expected in the two foot range by Monday morning. Skiers rejoice!
Given our history in Nederland, this isn’t all that surprising. Over the eight years we have liven here, April has been the snowiest month of the year with 36.3 inches of snow. Spring brings the promise of up slope snow storms bringing copious amounts of moisture from the Gulf of Mexico. Combine that with a shot of cold air from the north, and you have the perfect recipe for big snow events. In fact, April has brought storms of 40+ inches, and several of two feet or more.
In terms of fire danger, the total snowfall doesn’t matter as much as when the snow falls and snow pack levels in the spring. In 2012, we had plenty of early snow, with over 150 inches falling by the end of February. But unfortunately, the snow came to an abrupt halt, and warm and dry weather dominated from March on causing a disastrous fire season.
Despite our below normal snowfall this year, getting snow over the next six weeks will be critical to lessening fire danger for this spring and summer. It will also make a huge difference for water availability in the Colorado River basin and nearby reservoirs. So while the rest of the country embraces daffodils and 70 degree temperatures, Colorado residents cheer for the snow falling from the gray skies.