Rocky Mountains Ripe For “Animals and Savages”

Cyclical Weather Part of  Familiar Trend in Teller High Country

Bob Volpe

Recent weather patterns may have you shaking your head and asking, “What the Hell is going on?”

Teller has experienced its share of mild weather trends in 2022, followed by sudden and extended deep freezes, such as last week, when the mercury dipped to minus-20 and even lower in certain local areas at night.

If you’re new to these here hills you may take heed of a quote from the 1970s movie, “Jeremiah Johnson,” starring Robert Redford. One of the characters named Del Gue says this to Johnson, “‘Them mountains is for animals and savages.’ I say, ‘Mother Gue, the Rocky Mountains is the marrow of the world.’ And by God I was right.”

Fact is, it is not uncommon for a warm spell in February to be followed by a “marrow” chilling cold snap.

If you’re a native or someone who has lived year for many years, you are familiar with the term “February thaw.” That is what we had here a couple weeks ago, when temps flirted with 50-degrees. Then last week we got hit with three days of snow and sub-zero temps. Typical February weather, pilgrims.

Fluctuations in the weather in Colorado is the norm.

Someone coined a phrase years ago that goes, “If ya don’t like the weather, stick around 15-minutes.” One thing you can count on is, winter is still with us and will be for a while longer. To quote a conversation between Jeremiah Johnson and his friend Bear Claw Chris Lapp, Johnson asks Bear Claw what month it is. Bear Claw replies, “Why no, I truly wouldn’t. I’m sorry, pilgrim. Winter’s a long time going? Stays long this high.” Johnson then replies, “March maybe April.” That pretty much sums up what is yet to come before the grass greens and the Crocus’ flower.

Big Storms Just Beginning

March and April are traditionally the snowiest months in Colorado. In March of 2021, Denver received 32.5-inches of snow. While that may have been an anomaly, big snows and even blizzard conditions are no stranger to us here in early spring. The one day highest snow day in Colorado Springs was 25.6-inches in March 11, 1909. The March 2021 North American blizzard was a record-breaking blizzard in the Rocky Mountains and a significant snowstorm in the Upper Midwest that occurred in mid-March of 2021. It brought Cheyenne, Wyoming their largest two-day snowfall on record, and Denver, Colorado their second-largest March snowfall on record. Locally, March of 2021 brought a total of 48-inches to Woodland Park.

If you think by April, you’ll be planting tomatoes, think again. In April of 1957, Colorado Springs set the highest snowfall for the month at 42.7-inches.

April of 1885 was a snowy one for Denver too. Not only does it lay claim to the biggest April snowstorm on record for the city, but in the end was a month where over 32″ fell in total. Here in Woodland Park, April of 2021 continued to follow in March’s footsteps. Last April we got a total of 15-inches of snow out of five storms. May of 2021 continued to pummel our town too. In May of 2021 Woodland Park received an additional 12-inches of snow out of 3-storms.

Whether you are a fan of big snow or not, it (big snows) ain’t over ‘till the fat lady sings,’ and she ain’t even tuning up her voice until the end of April.