Last Sunday, I got really excited. Really excited. After waiting all winter for a decent snow storm, it seemed we would finally get our spring upslope snowstorm. Joel Gratz of OpenSnow, wrote of the models that forecast storms, predicting 1-2 feet of new snow, favoring the east side of the Continental Divide. That was us!
My husband cautioned me against getting too excited. As a meteorologist, he knows that it is not an exact science. He knows from working for the National Weather Service that day to day, hour to hour, those models can drastically change, that a storm can fall apart. But I jumped right on board, sure we would finally get the snow we so desperately needed.
Apparently I wasn’t the only one to jump on the “Snow Goose” train, because Eldora, the local ski resort, announced last week, they would extend their season an extra week to close on April 22. Ironically in previous years, right after Eldora closed, we would get a huge spring snow storm. I couldn’t help but think they decided to extend the season a week so they wouldn’t miss out this year.
The storm was forecast to come in on Friday, and sure enough, Friday afternoon, snow began to fall in earnest. During those first two hours, the flakes got bigger and bigger. I envisioned waking up Saturday morning to 2 feet of snow, much like we had experienced in previous Aprils here in Nederland.
But then after three hours, the snow stopped. A check of radar on the Weather Service website ishowed no precipitation coming our way. What happened?
As Bryon had predicted, the storm went dry and went bust. We only ended up with about three inches of snow total. And all those skiers that were expecting to ski ankle deep powder this morning instead were greeted instead with a light covering of fluff over rock hard snow.
And so we are faced with the result of a typical La Nina winter. La Nina winters tend to favor the Pacific Northwest, and do not treat the Front Range of Colorado kindly. Places like Washington and Montana have received snowfall up to 150% of normal, while Colorado is now facing drought. A look back through past Nederland winters show that our least snowiest winters coincide with La Nina.
Barring a miracle in the next couple of weeks, this will be our least snowiest winter since we moved here, with only 90 inches of snow, compared to our average of 150 inches. My only solace as a skier and a mountain resident, is that it is unusual to have two La Nina winters back to back, so hopefully next winter will bring snowier days.
In the meantime, it’s going to be a very long summer.