Mountain Snow in the Rockies

Reader Contribution by Bruce Mcelmurray
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Living on a mountain all year long we have learned what mountain snow is all about. If you have ever wondered what mountain snow is like perhaps this topic will provide a vivid and realistic image. Some people tell us that they could not cope with all the snow we receive by living here. I have never considered the snow to be a particular problem. Living in a covenant community the roads are plowed and maintained so we usually can get out without problem. Sometimes not when we would want to but usually within a day or two. When we first bought our property 35 years ago the purchase was accompanied by a HUD report. In that report it stated that the average snowfall during the winter months averaged 264 inches, where we live in the center of the community. Fortunately that does not all occur at the same time but we do get some storms which can deposit up to 6 feet at a time. Of course the 264-inch is average snowfall so some years we get 200 inches or less and other years over 300 inches or more.

We keep track of how much snow we receive to be able to count down to when winter will be about over. So far this year we have received only 72 inches of snowfall. So as we count down or up to 264 inches we presently have around 192 inches to signal the end of winter at our elevation of 9,750 feet. Winter for us in the mountains can run any where from late September to late May.

Winter and the snowfall we receive can be tricky living at this elevation. Move down a few hundred feet and the snow can be much less than what we receive. Conversely the snow can be more the higher we go up the mountain. Then of course there is the wind that prevails during the winter months. The wind moves the snow around and a few inches of snow can result in serious drifts across roads and driveways. We have never considered the snow to be a problem and simply cope with it as it happens and continue the countdown to 264 inches which will tell us when winter is nearly over.

Fresh snow can create some beautiful views as the above photo depicts. Because of the low humidity in the mountains we can be outside comfortably which is where we spend much of our time. Even though we can move most of the snow with the tractor with the attached snow thrower there is still a lot to do in order to move around freely. We actually do not mind all the snow and use it to enjoy ourselves and also realize it will give us the needed moisture we need in the other seasons of the year which can be more dry. The above photo is looking down our driveway which just happens to be the best bob sled run in the community. When we make the turn at the bottom of the driveway then bank off the snow bank we can go 100 yards or more down the road. Or we strap on a set of snow shoes and we can hike for miles on unplowed roads. When we look off in the distance from our deck we see the mountain covered with snow and the gorgeous views we never tire of seeing.

When asked if putting up with 22 feet of snow each winter is worth living here our answer is always the same. It is more than well worth it to live in this pristine beauty, clear fresh air and winter wonderland. Many times when we look outside or go outside the view will be breath taking. Millions of snowflakes – each one different from the rest – all glittering like millions of diamonds is enough to stop you in your tracks just to admire the sight. The ice cycles hanging from the pine and spruce trees are something to behold. The raw beauty of living where we do often is so absolutely gorgeous that it can stop you in your tracks and take your breath away the scene is so stunning. The snow also acts as an insulator to muffle animal sounds so the silence just adds to the beauty that surrounds us. Yes we love the snow in all its raw beauty and living where it is always changing due to the movement of the sun or wind. This is a wonderful place to live and fully appreciate all that nature offers. Receiving 264 inches of snow a winter is just part of life in the mountains.

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