Review: A Week of Colorado Weather

Outside my window, the rarely-trafficked street is still white, only the manhole cover that managed to melt through gives a hint that there’s anything not white under there. The gray sidewalks–which must be shoveled both as a courtesy to fellow pedestrians and out of fear for the law–form a coherent border between the white over grass and the white over blacktop.

It snowed, off and on, for three consecutive days. The total accumulation on grass is almost certainly less than six inches–a somewhat high but not unexpected total for the areas of Colorado where people live. Many non-locals mistake Colorado’s ski areas for the “front range” where the vast majority of it’s people live. They’re surprised by the news that this snow will likely have vanished without a trace by next Monday.

But if Colorado’s weather is nothing else, it’s variable. There’s a running joke–however unfunny–among locals that Colorado’s the only place you’ll need hat and gloves in the morning, shorts at lunch, and a rain slicker by dinner. Though such a day has never occurred in my memory, this week does show the origins of the lie.

Six days ago, I stepped outside to walk the dog. I was expecting weather as it had been–about 45 and a tad too windy–instead my first thought was “this is awfully nice weather for October,”–65, sunny, only a slight breeze. Upon realizing that we’d recently entered the month of December, I was stunned and ecstatic with my good fortune.

By that evening, with the weathermen telling us that snow would soon fall, there was little surprise. This was Colorado, after all, and the weather had changed dramatically from my shorts-envying noon-time walk. It was again around 40 and windy, as sure a sign as any that the weathermen we’re completely wrong.

Nonetheless, I was modestly shocked waking to a light dusting of snow last Thursday. Such weather had certainly been predicted, but Colorado’s meteorologists are fond of saying that their’s is a very difficult job.

Today, the view outside of my window could be called–a little generously–a winter wonderland. We’ve got the extra-brightness engendered by snow that skiers know so well. Last Monday, I probably would have seen a cool dry Colorado winter, a little dispassionate gray in the sky. And I’m happy to report that I don’t have any idea what next Monday will bring.