Colorado weather forecasters are calling for somewhere in the neighborhood of 8″ this weekend, and everyone is flipping out. I don’t totally get it, having lived in this state almost 30 years (my parents took me to live in St. Louis for a few years as a small child, and I spent a couple years elsewhere in the Army, but other than that it’s all been here, and I’m third generation native), I remember a time when an 8″ accumulation was considered on the high side of modest snowfall. I remember having to drag my ass to middle school after the blizzard of ’97 with 3 feet of accumulated snow on the ground. Now when not even a foot is called for, everyone calls it #snowmageddon and clears out the grocery stores (I snapped the above photo of the line I had to wait in at the grocery store when I went to get diapers yesterday). We’ve gone soft in this state I’m afraid.
It probably shouldn’t be surprising, we just don’t get snows like we used to anymore. The last really big blizzard we got was in ’03, 4 – 6 feet of accumulation depending on where you were (it’s worth noting that the light rails were still running for the first few feet of that, I took one). That sort of snow wasn’t super common growing up here, but it did happen. My kids will probably never see snow like that. They get that on the east coast now. Everything is topsy turvy, it seems. When it’s been almost a decade since we last had a real blizzard, and in that time the main population growth has come from people moving here from places where, yeah, a few inches of snow is a disaster, then I guess it should be no surprise that we’ve gone a little soft. On top of that, I am pretty convinced we’ve cut funding for snow removal or something because I also remember driving in the blizzard of ’03, and there are times now that the roads are worse at 3″ of snow than they were then at 72″. The only explanation for that is that snow removal was better then than it is now (and maybe there were fewer idiots freaking out on the roads back then, I don’t know).
But hey, I don’t like cold and snow either, so I’m just as willing to stay the hell away from it as everyone else. Luckily this snow fall (sorry, this is not a blizzard, it’s not a blizzard until we’re measuring in feet, not inches) is happening on a weekend and most of us won’t have to go out in it. And considering how everyone was preparing to baton down the hatches like a fucking hurricane was coming yesterday, I doubt there will be much in the way of commerce going on so I hope the staff at retail establishments is minimal (having worked as a pizza delivery driver, however, I know those poor souls are doomed, I’ve delivered pizzas in far worse snow than this, in a Ford Focus, no less. No one cares what the roads are like when they want pizza delivered hot to their doorstep). You won’t find me out there making snow angels and building snow forts, no way. I hibernate when this shit falls. But I also get really pissed off when I hear people complaining about it.
1. This is nothing, so shut your wimpy hole. There are plenty of people in New England right now, not to mention those of us here who remember what real winter used to look like in Colorado, playing the worlds smallest violin for you and your forecasted eight inches.
2. What the hell is there to complain about? We’ve hardly gotten any cold and snow all winter. We had several weeks of 60 and 70 degree weather back there, for Christ’s sake! My tulips started growing!! It’s not like this is the hundredth snow of the season, it’s not even the tenth! This has been a fucking easy and gentle winter (like last winter, and the winter before that) in which cold and snow didn’t even really start until mid February (it used to be February and March were the snowiest months of winter, not the only months of winter), so please STFU.
3. We need snow and cold!!! We need it for our ecosystem to function properly. And not just our ecosystem, but the ecosystem of pretty much the entire mid to south west portion of North America (yes, the whole continent) depends in a large part on cold and snow in the Rocky Mountain region. People all over this continent face massive drought and ecological disaster when we in the Rocky Mountain corridor don’t get enough winter, which means fires, food shortages, and death. We know what it looks like when we don’t get enough winter. We have seen it, over the last decade. It is not pretty. It looks like ever more numerous and massive forest fires. It looks like whole forests wiped out by pine beetle kill. It looks like increased pesticide usage, crop failures, and drought. It looks like rising rates of insect borne diseases. We have seen it, and I guess I kind of feel like, since we know what not enough winter looks like, we should be grateful for what little winter we are still getting. We should be down on our knees praising the heavens for whatever amount of snow we’ve been blessed with, which is, I’m sorry, not nearly enough this year. I’m not saying we should all be skipping outside singing songs from Frozen, but at the very least, could we refrain from whining about how unfair it is that we should have to suffer through a tiny fraction of a season we actually desperately need for our ecosystem to function properly? How out of touch could we possibly be?
In my frustration, I posted the following rant on Facebook.
I’m going to be that asshole again and say it, this snow is good. We need snow. We need it for agriculture, fire protection, drinking water, and for our ecosystems not to get all fucked up. And not just here, in Colorado. Thirteen states, several tribal nations, and many parts of Mexico are to some degree dependent on the snowfall we get here in Colorado for their water supply, including California, you know, THE STATE THAT MOST OF THE NATION’S FOOD COMES FROM. Food needs water to grow, yo. And it’s not just water we need, we also need cold temperatures. Cold temperatures kill off insect larva so that there are fewer insects in the summer time. Insects like pine beetles, Mosquitos, and various pests that kill our crops. Warmer winters mean greater pesticide usage, more dead forests, and more West Nile and Lyme disease, just to name a few consequences of not having enough cold and snow. If you like eating, not having insect borne diseases, and not breathing ash all summer, you should be grateful for this snow. I don’t like snow and cold any more than anyone else, but our ecosystem has it for a reason. So maybe instead of bitching that our weather is finally supplying us and much of the western part of North America with this much needed weather, get comfy in your home, drink some hot chocolate, spend time with your loved ones, and enjoy getting a hibernation break. If you have to go out in this for work, bitch about your cruel corporate overlords who force that upon you, not the weather. And the next time it’s unseasonably warm in the winter, instead of skipping around chirping about how beautiful it is, get pissed, because it is not normal and it is not okay and something can and should be done about it. Take it from this third generation native, February and March are normally our snowiest months, not our only snowy months. At the very least, if you can’t handle one or two 8″ snowfalls at the very end of what used to be winter, be grateful you didn’t live here back when we used to get real winters, and no one freaked out unless we were calling for more than 12″. This state has gone soft.
(Note; we did get what I would call a medium blizzard in ’07. I forgot about that, which is weird because the National Guard was called up and I was a part of it. Granted, we were called up to help cattle ranchers in Lamar, primarily. Denver was expected to for the most part handle its own shit during that, but it was a blizzard. Still, it’s been 8 years since then, almost a decade, and I don’t think we’ve had anything I’d consider to be a blizzard since then. We used to get at least one blizzard a year. I’d say we need at least 2 feet of accumulation from a single storm to call it a blizzard.)
(Another note; if you are going to order pizza in this kind of weather, for the love of humanity and all things good and holy, please turn on your porch lights, shovel your driveway and sidewalks, and tip appropriately. That’s at least 20% or $5, whichever is more. If delivery to your door in a snow storm is not worth that, get off your lazy ass and you drive to pick up your freaking pizza. All delivery places also offer carry out. I have seen people seriously injured on icy sidewalks and had their cars totaled in the effort to get you a lousy pizza during a snow storm. Show some gratitude. No one owes you a pizza.)