October is usually the month when the season’s first snow falls. So the 2017/2018 snow season is off to the races – two or three inches so far at mid-afternoon on this 9th day of the month, and it is still snowing (the photos accompanying this post were taken this morning along the Tower Trail, about an hour after the rain turned into snow). Not since 2013 has the park seen any measurable October snow, when a total of 7″ fell. It’s nice to see that stretch of snowless Octobers come to an end.
Looking back over the past few decades of precipitation records, October’s snow totals can vary quite a bit, and sometimes it can snow a whole lot! In 2009, October saw a whopping 30.3″ of snow; 1976 saw 28″, and 1997 brought 25″ of white stuff.
It does beg the question: Does a snowy October portend a snowy winter? Well, looking back at those three snowy Octobers, both the 09/10 and 97/98 winters were well above average. In fact, the 97/98 winter was the snowiest in the last four decades, when 209.5″ of snow whitened the Beulah landscape. Slightly less than the seasonal average of 118″ fell over the 76/77 snow season. So, will the 2017/2018 snow season be a heavy one? Well, if today’s snow can be followed by some good pre-Halloween snows, it just might!
The snow continues to fall as the afternoon wears on. I can just hear my cross country skis out in the shed, trembling with excitement! Maybe this will be a winter with lots of good skiing and snowshoeing in the Mountain Park. Come on snow!
~ Ranger Dave
A few weeks ago I wondered if October would bring the season’s first snow. It is now November 1, and not only did Halloween come and go without any snow, but nary a drop of rain fell as well. The last measurable rain – 0.07″ – fell on September 30. Since September 1, I’ve measured a stingy total of 0.62″. All this dryness resulted in two October wildfires that threatened the park. The Beulah Hill Fire, which started on a crazy windy October 3, burned over 5000 acres and got within around a half mile of the park as the crow flies. Two weeks later, the Junkins Fire started on another windy day and made it to around 4 miles of the park. The latter, which burned around 18,000 acres, is still not fully contained, and will likely not be fully out until the skies deliver some decent snowfall.
As I type these words on the morning of November 1, a fair autumn sky and another warm day seem to offer little hope of bringing any snow, or rain. I just checked the NOAA website, and they are projecting a 30% chance of rain showers in a few days. That would be nice!
It is still a pleasant day to be outside, with no more smoke from the fires, no wind, and a few colorful cottonwood and oak leaves hanging on here and there under a lovely autumn sky. But it would be an even nicer day if the clouds would darken and thicken and start dropping something wet. I think I’m going to put on my rain-dancing shoes! Or, better yet, my snow-dancing shoes! Care to join me?
My plan was to head up to Lookout Point yesterday, October 17. But the strong wind, the nearby Junkins Fire, and being on pre-evacuation status kept me from getting there. Why visit Lookout Point on October 17? Because I wanted to be there on the 82nd anniversary of the date carved into a small cement slab found in the granite of that lovely place. It was put there by the workers who installed the pipe railing that surrounds Lookout Point.
So I hiked up there today, one day later, and took these photos (note the smoke from the Junkins fire on the horizon in the 2nd photo). A bit of the lettering has worn away, but I can still make it out: A.F.M. Pueblo, Colo. Oct. 17, 1934. It was during the Great Depression when much of the infrastructure was built in what was then a 14-year-old Pueblo Mountain Park. The early 30s brought the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) to the park to construct roads, bridges, trails and other structures. Later in the 30s, crews from the Workers Progress Administration took up where the CCC left off.
I’ve tried to find out what A.F.M. stands for. Originally I figured it stood for American Federation of Masons, or something similar. I figured the park work crews arranged for some masons from Pueblo to install the railing. But I could find nothing that corroborated that. Was it someone’s initials? (If anyone can shed some light on this, please let me know – I’d appreciate it.)
For eighty-two years (and one day), Lookout Point has been offering hikers, scout groups, campers, students, and many others grand views of Pueblo Mountain Park and Devil’s Canyon. How fortunate we all have been to benefit from the good work of the CCC and the WPA – and, the AFM.
When I think back on Trick-or-treating in Beulah with my kids back in the 80s, it was pretty much a given that there would be some snowy/slippery places to watch out for. Usually by Halloween, Beulah would have seen its first snow. As October 2016 is well into its second week, and the temps are predicted to be in the 70s for the next few days, I am wondering – will it snow in October this year?
So, I dug up the precipitation data that I have for Beulah that I have been keeping for the last several years, along with data that others have kept for the park, to see what the last several Octobers have looked like. Looking back at the last twenty-five Octobers, sixteen of them saw snow, while nine didn’t. For the sixteen years that did see snow, it has ranged from around an inch or two (2012, 2008, 1994) to 30.3” in 2009. Other relatively significant snowy Octobers were 1996 (16.5”), 1993 (17”) and 1991 (22”).
Based on this data, there is about a 2 in 3 chance that it will snow in October. The last two years have seen no snow in October here in the park. Does that mean we are due for a snow or two this October?