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Old 09-15-2011, 07:13 PM
 
Location: Durango, CO
169 posts, read 318,743 times
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We Jeeped up to Kennebec Pass (11,650') where a light snow ensued. I know this rates a .001 on Coloradoan's give-a-d**n meter but we loved it. We bought our season lifties (also a first) for Purgatory over the weekend so the snow really has us jacked up. I've heard this is supposed to be a bad year for snow but a guy can still dream, can't he?
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Old 09-15-2011, 07:30 PM
 
Location: Southeastern Colorado
319 posts, read 621,625 times
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That's a nice landmark for you. Now you can look ahead to next year and seeing snow for the first time in June.

And, yes, a guy CAN still dream...but chances are good there's some Indian Summer coming along soon-- so don't put the shorts and sandals away quite yet!
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Old 09-15-2011, 07:38 PM
 
Location: On the sunny side of a mountain
2,974 posts, read 6,633,254 times
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It's pretty exciting! The peaks around us were heavily dusted today, it reminds me that I need a new snow shovel.
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Old 09-15-2011, 07:42 PM
 
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Northern and Central Colorado are going to get pounded with it being another La Nina year. Southern Colorado and New Mexico are going to get less than average snowfall this year. Just the reverse is true for El Nino years.
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Old 09-15-2011, 08:12 PM
 
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The earliest heavy snowfall I have ever been in was on Sept 6 or 8th 2000 in Vail and over Vail Pass. About 8 inches fell over night.

I've gotten snowed on every month in Colorado, but once you get into September, it's only a matter of time before a decent snowfall comes to the mountains.
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Old 09-15-2011, 11:26 PM
 
Location: Bend, OR
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My husband and I went backpacking in the Uncompahgre Wilderness over the 4th of July one year and it snowed on us. Granted it was just a dusting, but proves it can snow anytime of the year in Colorado!
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Old 09-15-2011, 11:44 PM
 
Location: Pluto's Home Town
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I am pretty amazed at how frequently snow comes to the Front Range communities in September. I consider them to be pretty mild overall, but those early fall storms can definitely roll in. In the high country, it seems like it always start dusting the peaks in September. Nothing more majestic than snow white peaks over turning aspen late in the month.

Last edited by Fiddlehead; 09-16-2011 at 12:01 AM..
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Old 09-15-2011, 11:52 PM
 
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Well the thing I don't like about big early snowfalls is that it fries the foliage and with a decent amount of snow, the trees just dump their leaves quick and that is that.
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Old 09-16-2011, 09:35 AM
 
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There is generally no corollary between an early snowfall in fall and what kind of winter lies ahead. The two things are caused by differing weather patterns. Generally speaking, early fall snows occur when residual moisture from the Southwest Monsoon collides with a strong cold front from the north. Occasionally in southwestern Colorado, the moisture can come from the remnants of a Pacific tropical storm or hurricane. If that occurs and the moisture runs into even relatively cool air, epic rainfall (usually no snow because of the warmth of the humid tropical air) and severe flooding will occur. This has happened in Durango several times--the worst being in October 1911 and second worst being in September 1970. I happened to be in Durango for the 1970 flood. Both were of severe enough intensity that either would have completely flooded out all of that yuppie crap built between Durango and Hermosa. It is only a matter of time until one of those events occurs again. In fact, the years from 1970 until now has been about the longest that area has gone without major flooding. It's due.

Back to snowfall. By the end of September or early October, the Southwest Monsoon has usually ceased to be a weather influence in Colorado. "Indian Summer" usually occurs between the time that the Monsoon ceases and the onset of the winter weather pattern that periodically brings Pacific moisture as far east as Colorado. That may be a matter of days or weeks, depending on the year. Typically, the winter weather pattern favors the northern mountains more than the southern mountains for snowfall until after Christmas. That is why the southern ski areas (south of US50, roughly) often have scarce and unreliable snow conditions until after Christmas. Into late January and February, the weather pattern begins to favor the southern mountains for heavy snowfall, but the peak snowfall often occurs late in the period--March and even April in some years. Of course, there are always exceptions, with single harsh storms occurring at unpredicted times or years where the entire weather pattern gets altered. El Niño and La Niña years can cause those kinds of variations.

As I said at the beginning, an early snowfall is no predictor of the severity of the winter. I remember one year when the San Juan Mountains were completely snowless to the 14,000 foot level with daytime temperatures up to the 40's and 50's a week before Thanksgiving. No appreciable snowfall occurred until the day after Christmas that year. What followed was one of the most severe winters in a century, which copious snowfall and weeks of temperatures below zero when it wasn't snowing. I've also seen years with numerous heavy fall snowstorms in the mountains, followed by a severe winter snow drought.

It is simply impossible for anyone who has lived in Colorado for a short time to make much of a coherent comment on the climate or weather patterns. It takes years of observation to really understand how complex the climate is in this state. That is true for most interior continental locations, but Colorado's jumbled geography and distance from moisture sources makes the climate here extremely complex. I've been studying it as a hobby for a half-century (since I was in elementary school) and it still surprises me with a new twist every so often.
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Old 09-16-2011, 09:59 AM
 
29 posts, read 42,436 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by delta07 View Post
My husband and I went backpacking in the Uncompahgre Wilderness over the 4th of July one year and it snowed on us. Granted it was just a dusting, but proves it can snow anytime of the year in Colorado!
As a native Colorado resident for fifty-some years, I have literally been snowed on every month of the year at one time or another including 4th of July on the Continental Divide and even once in August in Loveland as I delivered newspapers.
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