Weird Snow in Estes Park, Colorado

Estes Park, Colorado has weird snow, plain and simple. I grew up in the Midwest. Snow doesn’t normally faze me. That said, I still find Estes Park snow to be noteworthy. Here are the top five reasons why I find it so strange:

One: The town has measurable snow fall every month of the year except July and August. Granted it is a minuscule amount during June and September but still it officially snows all year long except a couple months. I contend, however, that one summer I was driving in town while watching snowflakes and marble-sized hail pound the roof of my car and it was the middle of August. Luckily the storm only lasted a few minutes before clearing.

Two: A lot of snow falls in the spring. In fact March is the month with the largest average amount of snowfall and April comes in at fourth. (February and December are second and third.) Snowfall precipitation usually drops off considerably in the month of May however, the first week of May last spring I woke up to eighteen inches of snow in my driveway after a freak all-day storm. Not only was it a huge amount of snow but it fell continuously over a twenty-four hour period, not intermittently as is often the case.

Three: Predicting snowfall amounts is difficult at best. The surrounding local mountains and continental divide create their own weather systems. One morning my yard had no snow at all on the ground while a neighbor a mile away had a couple inches. Differences in snowfall amounts are routinely even more dramatic between the west and east side of nearby mountains.

Four: The snow disappears quickly. Yes, the town has an excellent snow removal system but there is more going on here than just that. It’s almost like magic how fast it will clear sometimes. One reason I have heard for the phenomenon is that the ground is so porous that the snow drains away so quickly you don’t realize it is melting. Hmmm. Not so sure about that reason. But I do know that sublimation occurs where the snow bypasses the liquid phase and goes directly into a gas phase as in water vapor. This is likely to happen when the air is especially dry and windy.

Five: Thundersnow can take place as in a thunderstorm with snow instead of rain. It is a rare occurrence in the United States and can only be described as bazaar as you watch lightning and hear thunder while watching it snow outside.