As a skier, I religiously read OpenSnow. OpenSnow is the website dedicated to forecasting powder for skiers everywhere. Started in Colorado by Joel Gratz, it has now gone nationwide.
A week ago, I took a couple of minutes reading Joel’s blog for Colorado, and got excited over the long-term forecast. Snow — favoring the foothills on the east side of the Divide. Yay — snow!
My husband calls me a Snow Goose — someone who anticipates big snow when there is just the faintest hint of a snowstorm. He’s also the first to tell me never to trust a forecast more than three days out — so says the meteorologist.
Still, i went down the rabbit hole and got excited anyway. Then, poof! The storm disappeared and it looked like we were in for a dry, sunny week. Which really isn’t that unusual for January in Colorado. A fact that surprises most people.
For most parts of the country, January is considered the heart of winter. Growing up in the mid west, our best chance for snow occurred in January. It brought the coldest temperatures and the hope of a snow day off from school. (As I write this, my home town of St. Louis, Missouri is receiving a foot of snow, one of their biggest snowstorms in many years.)
But in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, January is more likely to bring a thaw, sunny skies and little snow. The average snowfall for the entire month of January is around 13 inches. Contrast that with April with over double that amount. During the last few years, we have received more snow even in the month of May.
It can be very trying for someone who loves skiing and snowshoeing, as the snow turns to slush, refreezes and gets all nasty and hard. The drought can often continue most of the month right into February. We’ve even had wildfires in January due to the dry conditions.
So, it brought me great delight when on Thursday afternoon, our little snowstorm reappeared. As I got up in the darkness at 5 a.m., snowflakes fluttered down, lightly covering our deck. Driving on the Peak to Peak highway, the snow continued, coating the roadway. Police lights flashed blue and red on I-70 from cars who slid out of control. Driving back home after our ski day, more snow continued to fall, resulting in a berm blocking our driveway. But I didn’t care — we’d gotten snow!
By this morning, ten inches covered the ground. Now, by Nederland standards, that’s not a very big storm. Considering that most years we get at least one 2-foot snowstorm, and some years two or three even larger than that.
Would you believe during our ten winters here, that our little 10-inch snowstorm was the second biggest one for the month of January?
So, snow lovers rejoice. We may have to wait a few weeks for another winter Wonderland scene.