So this is what it's like to have a winter! Six weeks, six snows, at least two of which have been blizzards and all of which have yielded at least a few inches of new snow. The first was the biggest; it hit back on Wednesday, December 20th. It dumped about two feet and completely shut down the Denver metro area, including I-25 from Wyoming to New Mexico and I-70 east to Kansas, and of course the air port. I was supposed to fly out to see my love in NW Arkansas on Thursday morning. The airport wasn't able to resume operation until Friday (the rest of the city would take even longer) and I wasn't able to leave until the following Monday, Christmas morning. That was an adventure, and it's recorded elsewhere. I bravely ventured out for a walk during the blizzard, so bundled up against the icy blast that walking down to the field felt like taking a space walk, or deep sea diving. I took pictures of the field being buried in the blowing snow, at least some of which I will post.
It's really amazing what two feet of snow does to the landscape. It not only transforms the landscape (replacing my car, for instance, with an ovoid lump in the snow) it also changes your perspective of it, raising you up an extra two feet (once the crust becomes hard enough to walk on). The second blizzard hit only a week later, while I was still away with my love, adding an additional foot. The snows since then have been variable, from two to six inches, all coming on the weekends.
Now, we're used to snow around here... we're just not used to it lasting for a month or more. The blizzard of '03 dumped more snow than that of Christmas '06, but it was melting before it was even done falling. The funny thing about the last six weeks is that, aside from a spring-like break for a few days this week, it's been cold, very cold, on a consistent basis, and the snow has stayed. Six week old snow hills still clog neighborhood streets and parking lots. Driving through neighborhoods has become a routine of bouncing over bumps and ruts that you'd expect to feel on a rough back-country road and parking in-between snow mounds the size of cars. I hear Denver proper is especially bad -- best avoid it until spring. The rough conditions have begun to take a toll on my car; a hubcap bounced off somewhere, and one night I tried to open the driver's side door, but it was frozen shut and the handle broke off. We've also twice experienced something new to me -- ground blizzards. Snow isn't falling, but fierce winds whip up the snow on the ground into a new blizzard. The winds and cycles of a little sun during the day followed by freezing at night have created ice and dense, slow melting snow.
There's no doubt that this is the snowiest, coldest winter since I was a kid, and incredibly we haven't even gotten to our snowiest month yet! The family has been talking recently about climatic cycles; it does seem like there was more snow when I was a kid. It seems like, back in elementary school, it snowed heavily enough that we could expect at least one or two snow days per year, and my early memories of winter are very snowy. Then, in middle school or early high school, it dried up. I got one or two half days, but I don't recall a single snow day during all of high school, and the winters so far this century, except for the blizzard of '03, have been especially mild. We've gotten used to temperatures in the fifties and sixties occurring in December and January, and to snow that falls one day and melts the next. (Back in high school, if I wanted to go sledding then I had to do it the day it snowed or the day after. We've had ample snow for sledding on the hills now for six solid weeks.) We've come to think that's what winters are like in Colorado. People who moved here during the 90's and more recently must think this weather is especially freakish, but maybe it's not. Maybe it signals a return to the kinds of winters we had when I was a kid, to real winters where it's cold and the snow falls often and covers the ground for months on end.
Maybe we've gotten a bit wimpy. Even I was starting to get sick of bouncing through the neighborhood and not being able to see the ground anywhere. But as the ground began to reappear earlier this week I knew I would miss the great snow when it was gone. Now the ground is covered once more. I wonder if continued harsh winters would make people think twice before moving here, and encourage some of the newcomers to go elsewhere. If so, I say bring it on. It's called winter, and it's beautiful. Love the snow and have a sense of humor about the inconveniences it deals to your schedule. Or move to Tucson.