If you’re familiar with Colorado, you probably know it for its world-class skiing. Aspen, Vail, Telluride (or if you’re a local, Copper Mountain, Winter Park, and the struggling parent’s favorite, Eldora). Which naturally leads people to think of Colorado as two things: mountains and snow.
Truth be told, nearly a third of the state is mountainous and the mountains have snow. (Which is good news for the rest of the country, because otherwise you wouldn’t have potable water, babies!) But the areas where the actual day-to-day people live—Denver, Colorado Springs, all the way northwest to my home town, Boulder—most commonly experience little more than occasional dustings. What we get is sun, 300+ days a year of brilliantly clear skies that make Waikiki look positively gloomy by comparison. As evidence, I submit this image that I shot a few feet beyond my backyard just a few days ago.
So when you hear tales of Colorado’s highways and airports shutting down on account of snow, you’re witnessing a rare occurrence: a deluge of snow hitting the Front Range. So rare that out of the handful of big Front Range snowstorms since the year 2000, I (a full-time resident of my beloved state) have experienced exactly zero of them. For whatever reason, I’ve always been on the road.
Today was the first exception.
We all knew this was supposed to be a Big One. But they’re always supposed to be Big Ones and they rarely are. Fortunately, I awoke this morning to the Real Thing: a late Spring storm with gloriously wet snowflakes the size of pancakes. And so densely packed, the world dropped away at 50 feet. This was the view off my deck. (That’s my banister topped by a foot of snow at bottom. Click the image for a 3x view.)
I shot this next image at high-noon from a bridge that passes over the nearby Viele Lake. See those slightly dark blobs in the sky? Those are big, fat, lick-‘em-off-your-lips snowflakes. The size of ice cream sandwiches, I tell you! (Again, click the image for a 3x view.)
But this next one’s my favorite: The view from the crest of Greenbriar Blvd., Boulder’s southernmost border, looking westward beyond the lake, directly at the city’s trademark Flatirons, among the most beautiful Late Cretaceous platonic outcroppings on the face of the planet. Why can’t you see them? Because snowflakes the size of lunar moths are heading straight at me and landing like bugs on a windshield all over my camera lens. (Please click the image to get a better sense of what the hell I’m talking about.)
All images were captured with an Olympus E-30 and sewn into panoramas with Photoshop CS4’s Photomerge filter. Why the sepia effect? (Created using the Black & White command, in case you’re curious.) Because the last time I saw weather like this, I was a boy. And as my own boys like to remind me, we only had black-and-white back then.
Oh, and by the way, that was this morning. Now it’s too dark to show you, but the snow is up to my earlobes. And the snowflakes have grown so large, they have their own atmospheres.
In which, it is snowing.