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
The last blog, which I posted a few weeks ago, asked the question: When will it snow? It took some more waiting, as November came and went without any measurable snow. The answer to that question finally came on Dec 7, when I measured 1.2” of snow, with another 1.3” of new snow the next day. That is the latest first snow of the season as far as I have found in looking at weather records for the last several decades. Dec 17 and 18 brought another 4”, bringing the season snow total to 6.5” to date.
The seasonal average for the park over the past several decades is around 118” of snow. So, we are off to a very dry start of the snow season, after a very dry fall. I do know that things can turn around pretty quick as far as snow totals go. A couple of good-sized storms, lined up just right (like a well-placed Albuquerque Low) can drop lots of white stuff on the Wet Mountains and bring those numbers up pretty quickly.
So, my winter solstice wish this year for the place that I live and work is for several strong, slow-moving Albuquerque Lows to slide across northern New Mexico and upslope lots of deep snow packing a whole lot of moisture. Once that happens, break out the cross-country skis or snowshoes and experience winter in Pueblo Mountain Park. If you are not into these winter-sports, then put on a few layers, bring a camera, a thermos of hot cocoa, your journal, or a good book and spend some quality time in the winter wonderland that the Mountain Park can be. Come on snow!
There is something so invigorating about being out when the the thermometer isn’t too far from 0F. I took these photos on a chilly walk this morning – the park from a distance, and a dried aster in a snowy coat. The sun was trying to make its presence known, but it was a weak one at best. I was dressed to be out and was enjoying the inch of new snow. The clouds have been very stingy with their snow so far this winter, so I welcome any little bit we get as I wait for some big snows.